Teach For America is working hand-in-hand with Native communities to help Native students achieve their incredible potential.
Native children experience some of the highest levels of poverty in our country, which greatly impacts their academic and life options. To help end this disparity, the Native Alliance develops leaders who are committed to preserving Native culture and expanding opportunities for Native youth across the country.
Our work is centered on deepening relationships with Native leaders and communities across our regions. Corps members and alumni who work in Hawai‘i, Greater Tulsa, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma City, South Dakota, and Washington may also have the opportunity to serve Native students living on reservations.
We recognize that the vast majority of Native children attend schools across all of our regions, not just in regions that serve students in schools on tribal land. Our alliance aims to grow the number of Native teachers working in schools across the country, and to build support for indigenous education and partnerships in all communities.
Native students graduate from high school.
Native students earn a college degree.
TFA Native alumni work in jobs that impact education.
TFA Native alumni teach in Pre-K-12 classrooms.
Providing an Additional Source of Effective Teachers & Leaders
Less than 1 percent of our country’s teachers identify as American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian. Native students benefit from seeing leaders in the classroom who share and affirm their culture, language, and traditions. Since the alliance was first launched in 2009, we have recruited over 340 Native teachers into classrooms across Teach For America’s national network. Simultaneously, we are working to build a sustainable alumni leadership pipeline. Our alumni include school, policy, and community leaders committed to advocating for and building with Native communities and children.
Advancing Student Achievement
In the 2015-16 school year, more than 300 corps members worked relentlessly to expand opportunity for their 10,000 students from Native backgrounds.
Fostering Culturally Responsive Teaching
Students learn best when they can see their own experiences, culture, and language reflected in their curriculum. We’re working to create outstanding examples of culturally responsive teaching and training our teachers in those practices.
Partnering with Native Organizations and Governments
We can go further together. That’s why we’re committed to forming strong partnerships with Native organizations and governments to raise awareness, collaborate on teacher recruitment and training, and accelerate our collective efforts.
“I knew New Mexico was exactly where I wanted to be. Serving my community means teaching kids like me.”
Watch: Issues Impacting Native Communities
Eliminating Racist Mascots
Panelists representing different tribal nations discuss how Native mascots are rooted in a harmful history of white settler colonialism, and why they have no place in schools and professional sports.
Native educators discuss different forms of cultural appropriation, and how well-intentioned efforts to preserve Native languages and culture can sometimes further perpetuate the oppression of Indigenous peoples.
Supporting Indigenous Students in the Classroom and Beyond
WaziHanska Cook, senior managing director of Teach for America's Native Alliance discusses the current educational context for Native students in the United States and Indigenous Nations.
Timeline & Accomplishments
- Native Achievement Initiative (NAI) Launched in Hawaii, South Dakota, New Mexico, and Tulsa
- July 30, 2010 – NAI Managing Director Position created and hired
- 2011 – NAI Initiative Advisory Council formed
- 2011 – NAI Culturally Responsive Teacher-Coaching Working Group created
- Feb 2011 – First Annual Legislative Summit in Washington, DC
- June 2011 – First Annual NAI Call to Action at Phoenix Institute
- Nov 2011 – TFA National Awareness Campaign, Native Heritage Month
- June 2013 – Native Achievement Initiative changed to Native Alliance Initiative (NAI)
- Aug 2013 – Native identity and tribal affiliation/citizenship implemented in the application process for the corps
- Apr 2014 – First NAI corps member & alumni summit in South Dakota
- 2015 – NAI joins National Indian Education Association as an organization member
- Apr 2015 – Second Annual NAI corps member & alumni summit in South Dakota
- Nov 2015 – Agreement signed with American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES)
- 2016 – Partnership with Sacaton Elem Gila River Reservation for Call to Action at Phoenix summer training institute
- Feb 2016 – Agreements signed with American Indian College Fund and Tribal Education Department National Assembly
- June 2016 – Agreement signed with Gila River Indian Community for summer training institute training
- Oct 2016 – Third annual corps member & alumni summit in Sulphur, OK
- Feb 2017 – 5th Annual NAI Legislative Summit; signed agreement with (AISES)
- April 2017 – TFA Native Alliance Initiative named Best Place to Work in STEM for 4th year in a row by Winds of Change Magazine
- June 2017 – 6th Annual Call to Action at Phoenix institute; second year of partnership with Sacaton Elem Gila River Reservation
- Nov 2017 – 4th Annual NAI corps member & alumni summit in South Dakota
- Mar 2018 – 6th Annual Legislative Summit, 4th Annual Capitol Hill Reception
- Nov 2018 – 5th Annual NAI corps member & alumni summit in Squamish Nation, WA; Held missing & murdered Indigenous women prayer walk
- 2019 – Native Alliance Initiative changed to Native Alliance
- Mar 2019 – TFA named Best Place to Work in STEM in Winds of Change Magazine for 6th Consecutive Year
- Nov 2019 – 6th Annual NAI corps member & alumni summit in Minnesota including 100 Native attendees, Over 40 Native Nations represented
- 2020 – Signed agreement with National Indian Education Association
- June 2020 – Virtual Call to Action implemented during virtual summer teacher training
- September 2020 – TFA supports policy stance to eliminate racist mascots
- November 2020 –TFA honors Indigenous People’s Day; 7th Annual NA Corps Member & Alumni Summit, first time being held virtually
- March 2021 – Launched national partner campaign to eliminate racist mascots (eliminateracistmascots.org); First virtual Legislative Summit in 2021
Serving Our Native Communities
Senior Managing Director, Native Alliance
Teach For America
WaziHanska (Robert Cook) is National Senior Managing Director of Teach For America’s Native Alliance serving American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students.