LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky will share a $2.3 million federal grant to train much-needed special education faculty.

According to a news release, Project PURPLE -- which stands for Preparing Urban and Rural Personnel as Leaders in Education -- is a joint effort between the U of L College of Education and Human Development and the UK College of Education, will fund five doctoral-level scholars from each institution beginning in the Fall 2020 semester.

The effort is funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs.

"We look forward to using our partnership to recruit and support a diverse group of scholars and to implement a comprehensive program focused on evidence-based practices for students with disabilities in urban and rural high-need schools," said Ginevra Courtade, U of L associate professor and chair of the Department of Special Education, who is co-director of the project.

Recognized faculty from both institutions will work with participants.

"The project takes advantage of the strengths of the faculties at both UK and U of L," said Kere Ackerman, the project's co-director at UK and an assistant professor in the UK College of Education's Department of Early Childhood, Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling.

Melinda Ault, the project's director and an associate professor of special education in the UK College of Education's Department of Early Childhood, Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling, says the training is desperately needed.

"The current special education faculty is aging, and projections indicate that retirements will continue to increase by as much as 50 percent," she said. "Without special education faculty, institutions of higher education cannot prepare adequate numbers of special education teachers, an area that has a critical shortage in Kentucky and nationwide."

Copyright 2019 by WDRB Media. All rights reserved.