Despite the progress we have made, educational inequity remains our nation's greatest injustice.  While Teach For America corps members and alumni in education continue to work relentlessly to reach educational equity for their students, realizing our vision of educational equity also requires innovative solutions from social entrepreneurs.  Social entrepreneurs design and implement solutions that address root causes of social challenges at a systemic scale. They recognize a need that is not being met by an established system, have the vision to develop innovative responses to the need, and use their leadership skills to turn their vision into a successful venture for social change.

Teach For America has a history of alumni social entrepreneurs who were motivated by their corps experience. They have pioneered trendsetting alternative school models, created new leadership cohorts, and merged business and social goals through hybrid ventures, all while challenging the status quo and forcing competitors to follow suit.

Teach For America created the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative to help even more alumni design launch new, game-changing ventures that target educational inequity at a systemic level.


  • Apply to Fellowships and Competitions: Alumni can use SEI tools to draft competitive applications for social entrepreneurship fellowships like Echoing Green and Mind Trust, receive feedback on application materials, and perfect their pitch.
  • Access Funding and Operational Support: Alumni can use our toolkits on TFANet to draft strong grant proposals, get fundraising strategies, and learn about venture management skills such as financial management, legal and personnel systems, and other operational areas. Alumni can also find SEI partner-vendors that offer pro bono or low-cost services to nonprofits.
  • Subscribe to the Social Entrepreneurship E-newsletter: Alumni can get news of alumni entrepreneurs, alerts on funding opportunities, and other resources delivered to their inbox.

Alumni Social Entrepreneurs

Nick Ehrmann (D.C. Region Corps '00)

  • Blue Engine
  • Launched Blue Engine, a national corps of teaching assistants that prepares high school students of all academic backgrounds to succeed in advanced coursework
  • In summer 2009, became a grantee of the Blue Ridge Foundation New York, a Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative partner, and was selected to the Echoing Green Fellowship in 2010

Dominique Lee (Greater Newark Corps '07)

  • Executive Director, BRICK – Building Responsible, Intelligent, Creative Kids
  • Innovated a teacher-led turnaround school model for public schools in Newark
  • Took over Brick Avon Avenue Academy in Fall 2010, along with five other Teach For America alumni

Alex Grodd (Metro Atlanta Corps '04)

  • BetterLesson
  • Recalling the challenges of developing curriculum as a corps member, started BetterLesson as an online platform designed connect educators and help them create, organize, and share their curricula
  • Seeded by New Schools Venture Fund, BetterLesson has enjoyed media coverage on and in Wired magazine

Colleen Dippel (Houston Corps '95)

  • Families Empowered
  • Started Families Empowered to educate and activate low income families in the greater Houston metro area to exercise their right to school choice; currently serving over 8,000 families on the local charter schools' waitlists
  • Funded by The Walton Family Foundation and The Laura and John Arnold Foundation 

Contact Us

If you would like to learn more about the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Initiative and how we might be able to partner with your organization, contact


"When the levies broke, we had to think boldly about how to rebuild every school.”

Sara Usdin
(Greater New Orleans - Louisiana Delta Corps '92)
Founder and President
New Schools for New Orleans

Social Innovation Award

With a $100,000 grant pool, the Teach For America Social Innovation Award is intended to spark bold, new innovations that expand opportunities and eliminate educational inequity for students in low-income communities.

Learn more about the 2013 winners »