Kids growing up in low-income communities begin to fall behind their more affluent peers even before they enter kindergarten. In 2006, Teach For America launched an early childhood education (ECE) initiative to address the urgent need to reach students in our most underserved communities as early as possible.
According to a study by James Heckman, Nobel Laureate of Economics, half of the achievement gap between White and African-American children in 12th grade is present before kindergarten starts.
We provide ECE corps members with the training and support they need to be successful with their pre-K students, including targeted support at our training institute and throughout their two-year commitment.
A study sponsored by the CityBridge Foundation and conducted by Westat found:
- Students in Teach For America corps members' classrooms knew an average of 24 letters to an average of ten letters by students in non-Teach For America classrooms.
- Students in Teach For America corps members' classrooms made stronger gains in vocabulary and early math than students in non-Teach For America classrooms.
We also support our ECE alumni beyond their two years to bring their leadership, talent, energy, and innovation to the front lines of this important work, both inside and outside of classrooms.
- Aaron Brenner (Rio Grande Valley Corps '95) founded KIPP SHINE Prep, KIPP's first pre-K/elementary school.
- Sophia Pappas (Greater Newark Corps '03) is the Executive Director of the NYC Department of Education Office of Early Childhood.
- Rocky Sodetani (Las Vegas Valley Corps '09) serves as a mentor to teachers and assistant site director at a Head Start center with Acelero Learning, in Clark County, Nevada.
We work with various hiring partners to place corps members in pre-K classrooms across the country, including Head Start programs. Yasmina Vinci, the Executive Director of the National Head Start Association, notes that "dedicated, effective teachers in pre-K classrooms are essential to expanding educational opportunities to our youngest students. Teach For America is an important talent pipeline for Head Start classrooms."