Teach For America is the national service corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools. In the short-term, we provide excellent teachers for the highest-need schools and ensure that they significantly impact their students’ academic achievement. In the long-term, we generate a force of leaders, armed with the invaluable insight from their teaching experience, who will continue to effect fundamental change in every sector.
Teach For America aims to eliminate educational inequity by building a highly selective service corps of our nation's most promising future leaders, outstanding recent college graduates of all academic majors, who commit two years to teach in public schools and become lifelong leaders in pursuit of educational excellence and equity.
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 has become the nation's largest provider of teachers for low-income communities, and we have been recognized for building a pipeline of leaders committed to educational equity and excellence.
Teach For America ranks among our country’s top ten recruiters of recent college graduates. We seek individuals from all backgrounds with varied career interests who have what it takes to excel as teachers and ultimately exert broader societal influence in our country. Of our 2007 Corps, 95 percent held leadership positions on college campuses, and averaged a GPA of 3.6. In addition, 28 percent identify as people of color, and 16 percent have a background in math, science or engineering.
Once selected, corps members attend a rigorous five-week training institute. Through opportunities for practice, observation and study, as well as careful planning and thoughtful reflection, corps members develop the foundational knowledge, skills and mindsets needed to be highly effective beginning teachers.
Armed with the insight and added commitment gained during their teaching experience, our alumni are effecting long-term fundamental change. Though still in their twenties and thirties, our alumni are running top schools, reshaping education policy and working from all sectors to bring about lasting change.
Nationwide, the more than 18,000 individuals who have joined Teach For America over the past 18 years have proven that our impact is both immediate and lasting. Today, more than 5,000 Teach For America corps members teach in over 1,000 schools in 26 urban and rural regions across the country; more than 12,000 Teach For America alumni continue working from inside and outside the field of education to effect the fundamental changes necessary to ensure educational excellence and equity.
Goals This Year
Despite what has been accomplished since our inception in 1990, we have never felt more acutely the potential of Teach For America to contribute still more. Each day we see the realities of educational inequity, juxtaposed against concrete evidence that when students in low-income communities are given the opportunities they deserve, they excel. And so we have resolved to be still bigger and better.
Our four key priorities are:
1. Grow to scale while increasing the diversity of the corps.
2. Maximize the impact of corps members on student achievement.
3. Foster the leadership of our alumni as a force for change.
4. Build an enduring American institution.
Wendy Kopp is the chief executive officer and founder of Teach For America.
Kopp proposed the creation of Teach For America in her undergraduate senior thesis in 1989 and has spent the last 18 years working to sustain and grow the organization. In the 2007-20078 school year, 5,000 corps members will be teaching in our country’s neediest communities, reaching approximately 440,000 students. They join more than 12,000 Teach For America alumni who—still in their 20s and 30s—are already assuming significant leadership roles in education and social reform.
Under Kopp’s leadership, Teach For America is in the midst of an effort to grow to scale while maximizing the impact of corps members and alumni as a force for short-term and long-term change.
Kopp is the author of One Day, All Children: The Unlikely Triumph of Teach for America and What I Learned Along the Way, and is the youngest person and the first woman to receive Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson Award, the highest honor the school confers on its undergraduate alumni. In 2006, she was named one of America’s best leaders by US News and World Report.
Kopp holds a bachelor's degree from Princeton University, where she participated in the undergraduate program of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
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