National Prism Alliances
What Is Prism?
Prism is a coalition of corps members, TFA alumni, non-TFA educators, civic and religious leaders, youth advocates and policymakers, and community members, all collaborating to share strategies and resources to support LGBTQ+ students and all students.
The network operates nationally and as local initiatives in more than two-dozen Teach For America regions. Members meet up quarterly for ongoing learning and professional development on LGBTQ+ leadership and transgender and non-binary advocacy.
National Prism Board 2019-2021
Our national Prism board includes members who represent diverse and multiple intersecting identities within the LGBTQ+ community. The board oversees the strategy and direction of Teach For America’s national LGBTQ+ supports and programming. The 2022 National Prism Board will be announced in June of 2022.
Am Norgren (D.C. Region ’10)
Professional Services Advisor, Agile Mind
Audrey Momoh (Bay Area ’16)
Education Program Associate,
Oakland Mayor’s Office
CJ Crowder (Bay Area ‘99) - Co-Chair
Area Manager, New England
Coyote Shook (New York ’12)
Ph.D. Candidate, Univ. of Texas
Wren Walker Robbins
Dept. Head of Secondary Education, Salish Kootenai College
Gil Garza (Rio Grande Valley ’16)
Manager, Pre-Corps Experience, Teach For America
Jeremy Scheiner (Massachusetts ’13) - Co-Chair
Deputy Director, Equity & Inclusion, ACLU
Jesse Holzman - Secretary
Ph.D. Candidate & Graduate Student Instructor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Justin Tindall (San Antonio ’12)
Director, Education & Global Programming, It Gets Better Project
Washington Navarrete (Arkansas ‘14)
Education Leadership Program Manager, UnidosUS
Los Angeles, CA
Kat Ling (Mississippi Delta ’11)
Interim CEO, Moonshot Edventures
Kezia Gilyard (Mississippi Delta ’12)
LGBTQ+ Coordinator, Equity & Diversity
Broward County Public Schools
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Omar Ornelas (California Capital Valley ’14)
Director, Program Applications, Teach for America
Sarah Storm (D.C. Region ‘11)
Coordinator, IMPACT Operations, DC Public Schools
Umut Dursun (Miami-Dade ‘11)
Executive Director of Education, YES Institute
Regional Prism Coalitions
Nationally, more than half of Teach For America regions have Prism coalitions which are led by a regional Prism board. Members of each coalition advocate for and engage people who identify as LGBTQ+ in ways that best match the unique needs and complexities of their local communities. Importantly, coalitions partner with both national and regional external partners who are sometimes better positioned and equipped to support policy, queer and transgender youth leadership and development, or BIPOC intersectionality.
Prism coalitions are often in different stages of development, aligned with other Board strategies, such as:
- Ideation: The region has been thinking about taking steps to start a Prism coalition;
- Emerging: Informal meetings and programming but no Board establishment;
- Operational: Coalition is supported by a Board with clear mission, vision, strategic pillars, and the identification of external partnerships, as well as comprehension of the policy and legislative issues that are critical to advancing safer and braver classrooms and schools.
- Sustainable: The Prism Coalition is supported by a Board that has been sustained over multiple consecutive years
Regional Prism coalitions support LGBTQ+ students, educators, and community members through a variety of initiatives including:
- Providing ongoing learning and professional development for corps members and alumni
- Educating LGBTQ+ educators on local policies and protections for LGBTQ+ employees
- Developing partnerships with local LGBTQ+ organizations and youth centers
- Organizing fundraisers to support LGBTQ+ causes
- Hosting regional Brave Education Summits where this capacity exists (e.g Valor del Valle in RGV).
Join a Regional Prism Coalition
View a list of regions with Prism coalitions and contact the staff point person for more info.
Many regions are in the process of forming a Prism coalition and may still offer opportunities to get involved with advocating for LGBTQ+ initiatives, even if their local coalition is still emerging. Contact Tim’m West to learn more about opportunities in each region.
Start a Regional Prism Coalition
Beyond the list of regions who have established Prism coalitions that are guided by a Board, many or most other regions are at stages of development with intention to launch them. If your region does not currently have a Prism coalition we invite you to ask staff in your region or contact Kezia Gilyard or Tim’m West.
Regional Prism Board Staff Liaison
Serves as the liaison between the broader TFA organization and the Prism Board. This role will not be voted on by the board, but appointed by the region. At all times, there should be a regional staff member in this position. Responsible for bringing to the board key, critical, or relevant issues and for communicating board recommendations out to relevant and appropriate parties. Also responsible for managing the board’s finances, submitting expenses through WorkDay and using a Team Card, when available, to cover Prism expenses. Staff liaison also manages relationships with the National Initiative Directors and National Prism Liaison and should leverage the staff-facing #prismliaisons slack channel to learn from best practices across other Prism regions.
Regional Alumni Point Person
This person is often chair or co-chair on their regional Prism Board. The inclusion of an alumni point person is critical to ensure information flows from regional prism boards to all alumni networks. TFA alumni often assist in expanding the impact of regional prism boards for students, families, and current and former staff.
Different prism board regions have varying organizational leadership styles. When the position of Board Chair is present, their role is to maintain order and communication amongst board members and report board activities to the regional prism board staff liaison.
Resources and Community Partners
- Comprehensive resource guide that includes interviews with researchers in the field, as well as information about scholarships available for LGBTQ+ students.
- Campus Pride College Fair Program: A national LGBTQ+ College Fair Program hosted once a year online and in 8-10 different cities across the U.S. The program is designed to address the concerns of LGBTQ and ally students related to academics, student life, and campus safety.
- Campus Pride Index: An assessment tool for campuses looking for ways to improve LGBTQ+ campus life.
- Camp Pride: A summer LGBTQ+ Youth Leadership Academy to build leadership capacity among LGBTQ+ and ally undergraduate student leaders and create safer, more inclusive campus communities.
- Advisor Bootcamp: An LGBTQ+ Professional Academy for Advisors to expand knowledge, enhance skills, and collaborate with others who share passion for creating safer, more welcoming communities.
- Campus Pride LGBTQ+ Scholarship Database: A database of LGBTQ+ scholarships available across the United States.
- Campus Pride Map: A database of LGBTQ+ student groups, support services, and resources at colleges and universities across the United States.
Employment protections for LGBTQ+ teachers in our partner regions vary. View state laws and protections for more information about the legal landscape in our regions.
Please know that while there is no federal law that protects LGBTQ+ individuals from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, many of our regions are in states that have passed laws to include protections for these identities. Applicants who are concerned about employment protections should note their preferences in “special circumstances” when applying. This request will be honored to the best of our ability.
It is important to recognize that the presence of legal protections for LGBTQ+ people does not guarantee a culture of acceptance within a region and vice versa. Especially in regions where these protections do not exist, corps members have had positive experiences. LGBTQ+ teachers can make an impact in regions not traditionally associated with being LGBTQ+-friendly, especially given these are often the areas where LGBTQ+ students most need advocates and allies. If you are willing to advocate for an inclusive learning environment in any setting, we encourage you to mobilize and fight for the students and communities we serve.
First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, educational resources, and other essentials—including coats, snacks, and hygiene kits—to educators serving children in need. Learn more about First Book's partnership with TFA's National Prism Alliances.
Recommended Classroom Resources
- The First Book Marketplace - Provides First Book’s network of more than 450,000 registered educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need with thousands of free and affordable high-quality, brand-new books, educational resources, and basic needs items.
- The Stories for All Project™ - The largest worldwide collection of curated inclusive content. Educators supporting kids in need can access high quality, affordable books representing diverse characters, voices, and life circumstances.
- The First Book National Book Bank - Book Bank books and educational resources are generously donated by our publishing partners and are available to First Book Members for only the cost of shipping & handling—the books are free!
- Inclusive Libraries for LGBTQ Youth - First Book has partnered with TFA to help educators create safe, inclusive, community spaces that surround LGBTQ+ youth with brand new, high quality books that acknoledge their multiple identities, validate their experiences, and affirm their value. Find a list of Twelve Books to Add to Your Inclusive Library from TFA alum, Andrew Byrd.
- Educators and parents can download free toolkits, activities, and reading guides to support young readers. Available in English and Spanish.
GLSEN is an education organization working to create safe and inclusive K-12 schools. Explore popular resources for educators:
- Startup guides and activities to use in your school’s GSA.
- A toolkit for elementary educators, GLSEN’s Ready, Set, Respect! can be used to help students feel safe and develop respectful behaviors and attitudes.
- GLSEN’s Safe Space Kit to create a safe space for LGBTQ youth in secondary schools.
- Resource pages full with videos, activities and blogs to support Black, Native, Latinx, Asian & Pacific Islander youth.
- Resources to support trans students as well as women and femme students.
- Policy Wonk? Here are model policies for schools, districts and state policy makers.
- Data lovers, browse through the latest National School Climate Report.
The It Gets Better Project is a nonprofit organization with a mission to uplift, empower, and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth around the globe through storytelling
Recommended Classroom Resources
It Gets Better EDU - Offers easy-to-access and easy-to-use information, resources, engagement opportunities to ensure that the stories crafted and collected by the It Gets Better Project reach LGBTQ+ youth where they are.
Moonlight Edu Guide - Educators can download a free guide for screening the Academy Award winning film, Moonlight in the classroom. The guide was created in partnership with Tim'm West, senior managing director of Teach For America's National Prism Alliances, David Johns, the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, A24 Films, and It Gets Better EDU.
Relevant Learner is a culturally responsive curriculum tool that makes it simple to highlight underrepresented perspectives and empowering narratives in secondary ELA and social studies classes.
Teaching Tolerance has a broad set of resources, toolkits, and professional development that can support corps members and alumni interested in advancing safe classrooms. You're encouraged to search its portal for more.
Recommended Classroom Resources
- Best Practices for Serving LGBTQ Students - A guide to creating a safe and inclusive school environment where LGBTQ+ identities are affirmed in school culture and curriculum.
- Queer America - A podcast that takes listeners on a journey that spans from Harlem to the Frontier West, revealing stories of LGBTQ+ life we should have learned in school.
- Lesson Plans - Covering a breadth of social justice topics, including gender & sexual identity. Filter by grade, subject area, and topic.
- Student Text Library - A searchable library of short texts. Filter by grade, subject area, and topic, including gender & sexual identity.
- Bullied film kit - Bullied is a documentary film that chronicles one student's ordeal at the hands of anti-gay bullies and offers an inspiring message of hope to those fighting harassment today. Teachers can order the free kit which includes a DVD of the film, as well as a viewer's guide, lesson plan, and activities.
- Webinars - Free, on-demand webinars covering a variety of topics, including gender and sexual identity. Participants also get a certificate of completion.
- In-person professional development workshops - Join a daylong professional development workshop for current K-12 classroom teachers, administrators and counselors, and educator coaches. You can access in-person workshops with our expert trainers in two ways: through open enrollment in designated cities or by requesting training.
- Educator Grants - Educator Grants support K-12 educators who embrace and embed anti-bias principles throughout their classrooms, schools, and districts. These grants, ranging from $500 to $10,000, support projects that promote affirming school climates and educate youth to thrive in a diverse democracy.
Partners in the purpose of creating brave spaces for LGBTQ+ teachers and ultimately students in every region.
Campus Pride represents the leading national nonprofit organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ+ students.
The Center for Black Equity
The Center for Black Equity is committed to supporting leaders, institutions and programs that promote equity for the LGBTQ+ community of African descent.
First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, educational resources, and other essentials—including coats, snacks, and hygiene kits—to educators serving children in need.
GLSEN (formerly the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) is an education organization working to create safe and inclusive K-12 schools.
Human Rights Campaign
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest LGBTQ+ civil rights advocacy group in the United States.
Senior Managing Director, National Prism Alliances
Teach For America
Tim'm is a seasoned educator, scholar, activist, and performance artist who plays an integral role in Teach For America's ever-expanding organizational effort to eliminate educational inequity through developing strategic partnerships with key stakeholders in the LGBTQ+ community. The inaugural director of our National Prism Alliances, he has served in this role since its inception in 2014.
Director of Regional Engagement, National Prism Alliances
Teach For America
Kezia Gilyard, M. Ed. (they/them/theirs), is a 2012 Miami-Dade alum, and nonbinary educator, facilitator, and advocate for LGBTQ+ youth. Kezia supports the National Prism Alliances' efforts to support regions in establishing and sustaining Prism coalitions that are critical levers in support of our LGBTQ+ corps members, alumni, and the students and communities they serve.