Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity. This year, more than 5,000 corps members are teaching in over 1,000 schools in 26 regions across the country, and more than 12,000 Teach For America alumni continue working from inside and outside the field of education for the fundamental changes necessary to ensure educational excellence and equity. Teach For America has been placing corps members in Houston since its inception in 1991. Currently, almost 350 corps members directly impact the lives of close to 30,000 students while about 400 Teach For America • Houston alumni are leading education reform initiatives from both inside and outside the education sector.
As a college senior, Wendy Kopp proposed Teach For America's creation in her Princeton University undergraduate thesis. She was convinced that many in her generation were searching for a way to assume a significant responsibility that would make a real difference in the world and that top college students would choose teaching over more lucrative opportunities if a prominent teacher corps existed.
As a 21 year-old, Kopp raised $2.5 million of start-up funding, hired a skeleton staff, and launched a grass-roots recruitment campaign. During Teach For America's first year in 1990, 500 men and women began teaching in six low-income communities across the country. Since then, Teach For America's network has grown to 17,000 individuals. They have become the nation's largest provider of teachers for low-income communities and have been recognized for building a pipeline of leaders committed to educational equity and excellence.
Theory for Change
Teach For America's mission is to enlist our nation's most promising future leaders in the movement to eliminate educational inequality.
They accomplish this by building a diverse, highly selective national corps of outstanding young professionals and recent college graduates—of all academic majors, career interests, and backgrounds—who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools in our nation's lowest-income communities and become lifelong leaders for expanding educational opportunity.
Socioeconomic challenges in low-income communities—such as inadequate housing, healthcare, and preschool opportunities—put added pressure on schools that generally don’t have the systems, capacity, and resources to compensate. This does not mean schools in low-income communities are worse than schools elsewhere; it means they need to do more given the additional challenges their students face. Unfortunately, these schools weren’t built that way. For example, there are not enough hours in a standard school day to catch up students, and schools may not have access to the social services their students need.
To overcome these underlying challenges in the short term, as many teachers as possible are needed who are willing to go above and beyond the constraints of the system to ensure that their students excel. But thousands of hardworking teachers cannot solve the problem on their own. Rather, the capacity of the system must be built to compensate for the broader forces at work. Teach For America alumni address these issues in the classroom and take on the underlying challenges from other sectors like medicine, law and policy.
It is through the combined efforts of their corps members and alumni, and by working alongside others in the communities that they serve, that Teach For America will achieve its vision: One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.
Learn more at www.teachforamerica.org