Teach For America Celebrates 25th Anniversary at Summit in Nation's Capital

The Organization Continues Efforts to Recruit the Nation’s Emerging Latino Leaders to Focus on National Issue of Educational Inequity


Washington , February 3, 2016Nearly 15,000 guests gathered this week in the nation’s capital for Teach For America’s 25th Anniversary Summit, celebrating the organization’s 25 years of impact supporting more than 10 million kids in communities across the country. Taking over Washington’s convention center and Verizon Center arena, TFA’s 25th Anniversary Summit brought together the organization’s corps members and alumni, as well as other leaders and advocates in education, government, policy, social justice, and other fields for a weekend of discussion and problem-solving focused on expanding educational opportunities for the nation’s children. Among the issues discussed at the summit were ways to address the critical needs of a growing Latino student population.

Since its launch in 1990, Teach For America has grown to become one of the largest providers of new Latino teachers in the nation, recruiting more than 4,300 Latinos to serve as teachers and leaders in low-income communities. Teach For America recruits top college graduates and professionals to make a lifetime commitment to expanding educational opportunities in low-income communities beginning with a two-year commitment to teach in high need schools. 

“We celebrate our progress and impact over the last 25 years and look ahead to the future,” said Elisa Villanueva Beard, CEO of Teach For America and an alumna of the program. “We were excited to convene close to 15,000 of our corps members, alumni, and supporters who are working in schools, at the system level, in politics, as thought leaders, advocates, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and engaged citizens all committed to educational equity and excellence. As we embark on our next 25 years, we’ll continue to work alongside others to channel the energy and talent of our nation’s most promising leaders into classrooms where they’re most needed and continue to fight for systemic change through leadership in every field.”

Villanueva Beard, the first Latina CEO of Teach For America, gained an awareness of educational inequity in her own life when she attended college and recognized she was underprepared for success compared to her more affluent peers. Though she ended up thriving and succeeding in college, she was inspired to ensure that more students have access to the quality of education that would prepare them for success. She joined Teach For America to teach bilingual education in Phoenix, Arizona, and three years later, came on to serve as Executive Director of her home region, the Rio Grande Valley. She later became Chief Operating Officer, and then Co-Chief Executive officer before her current role as sole CEO. Today, she is joined by thousands of other Latino Teach For America corps members and alumni, working from inside and outside the classroom to provide excellent educational opportunities for students across the country.

Bringing together leaders from all backgrounds, the summit encouraged dialogue about critical issues facing Latino families and students. Workshop and panel topics included exploring the barriers students from low-income communities face in completing college, the challenges Latino students face when policies prevent them from learning in their native language, the role poverty can play in decreasing educational opportunities for students, and opportunities for changing the culture of violence that too often surrounds young men of color. In addition, workshops were held to help participants understand the challenges undocumented students face and the resources available to help these children thrive.

Through its Latino Community Initiatives, the organization also has made a significant effort to incorporate more Latinos into its teaching corps. By partnering with United We Dream, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), and League of United Latin American Citizens, among many other groups, Teach For America works to raise awareness of the need for more diversity in our schools. In 2012, Teach For America launched its Latino Greek Initiative to encourage more young Latino leaders to pursue teaching. In addition, Teach For America leads regular Latino Leadership Summits in cities across the country to promote a better understanding among rising Latino leaders of the educational inequities Latino, and low-income students face. Additionally, Teach For America has partnered with schools and districts to create a path to teaching for individuals with Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. Approximately 90 DACAmented corps members are teaching in 12 regions nationwide this school year.

“We work with Latino community organizations, fraternities, elected officials and many others to recruit more Latino professionals and college graduates to teach and become life-long leaders in the fight for educational equity,” said Patricia Leon-Guerrero, Senior Managing Director, Latino Community Initiatives . “We support our alumni both inside and outside the classroom as they continue this mission. While many of our Latino leaders choose to stay in education as teachers and principals, others are having an incredible impact on our communities as policy makers, legislators and leaders of community organizations.”

Today, Teach For America corps members and alumni are having a significant impact as they work to provide students with a quality education as teachers and leaders. Natasha Borja Chavarro, a seventh grade math teacher in Bedstuy, New York, moved the United States as child with her family and didn’t speak any English. Today, she works with English Language Learner students and ensures that their cultures are reflected and valued in her classroom.

While many Teach For America teachers stay in the classroom, others continue to work in education or in ways that directly serve low-income communities. Angela Maldonado, recognized by Forbes 30 Under 30 list of the nation’s influential education, is the Lead Talent Management Coach at Philly PLUS, Philadelphia's first alternative principal certification program. Maldonado manages the organization’s coaching team and spearheads strategies for developing effective school leaders that can build strong school communities that support teachers and students.

Today, 25 percent of students in the United States identify as Latino compared to only 8 percent of teachers. Realizing more needs to be done to address this disparity, Teach For America announced in October that it would commit to recruit 2,400 new Latino teachers in the next three years. The organization’s final deadline to apply to teach in Fall 2016 is March 4th. To learn more about applying to be a new teacher through Teach For America, visit www.teachforamerica.org.

Click here for information or details about the Anniversary summit and follow the action on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #TFA25.

About Teach For America
Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity. Today, 8,600 corps members are teaching in 52 urban and rural regions across the country while more than 42,000 alumni work across sectors to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education. Teach For America is a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.