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3 Reasons Social Justice Advocates Join Teach For America

Discover why social justice warriors are drawn to Teach For America to advance their careers of social impact. 

By Alexzandria Cormier-Hill

January 9, 2020

Teach For America alumni social justice rally

Social justice advocates like activist DeRay Mckesson (New York City ’07), education champion Michelle Rhee (Baltimore ’92), TED Talk speaker Clint Smith (D.C. Region ’11), and social entrepreneur Reyna Montoya (Phoenix ’14) joined Teach For America to turn their passion into action. By allowing their core values and convictions to lead them in the classroom, these culture shifters were able to launch successful careers in social justice.

If you want to shape and develop powerful social justice movements, here are three ways Teach For America can help you pursue a social impact career and expand opportunities for marginalized communities in the classroom and beyond.

Find and Fuel Your Passion 

As a social justice warrior in the education space, it’s imperative to be aware of the historical and growing inequities that exist within the current education system. TFA corps members have no choice but to confront the day-to-day disparities that impact children in the classroom. 

Kids can’t learn and achieve to their highest potential if they suffer from food insecurity or are homeless or dealing with housing insecurity; if their homes and communities are at risk of flooding or burning from climate change; if their parents are struggling to work; if they’re bullied or marginalized for the way they look, their gender identity, their background; if they’re at risk of deportation or seeing loved ones be deported; if they’re dealing with deep traumas. The domino effect of these inequities have adverse effects on children’s capacity to thrive at school. 

A poor educational experience can drain a child’s self-worth, critical-thinking abilities, economic stability, opportunities, network, and a host of other things. As a result, these students are at risk of growing into adults with a lack of power, knowledge, and access needed to adequately change the systemic ills that affect us as a society. 

These realities push TFA educators to think creatively, critically, and compassionately as they work towards providing viable solutions and safe learning environments for their kids.

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Develop Skills that Prepare You 

Being an educator is demanding; so is dismantling ineffective and unjust systems. Every day, TFA corps members develop the skills necessary to champion various causes that create an equitable, exciting, and excellent education for the leaders of tomorrow. 

Resourcefulness, communication, collaboration, active listening, empathy, time management, tenacity, grit, courage, conviction, negotiation, and the ability to navigate complex situations are just a few transferable traits that strong teachers and social justice advocates share.

Take English teacher Julia Simmons (E.N.C. ’16) for example. After Hurricane Matthew ravished W.A. Pattillo Middle School and its historically Black community with massive flooding, she partnered with her student Ni’zavion Black to organize a clean-up in an attempt to help the residents rebuild and restore hope. 

Then there’s Roland Wang (Houston ’15), who initiated YES Prep’s first Asian American-Pacific Islander summit so students could have a safe place to speak about the model minority myth, AAPI underrepresentation, and microaggressions.

Or consider how Buffalo City Court Judge Amy Martoche (S. Louisiana ’93) transferred her classroom lessons of authority and understanding the courtroom, to spread awareness and create fair spaces for school-aged victims of human trafficking.

Many of our corps members and alumni attribute their passion for social justice to TFA arming them the knowledge, tools, and mentors needed to confidently face challenges head-on. If you’re looking for a social impact career that entails high responsibility, great influence, and the chance to learn and develop transferable skills, Teach For America is the best place to start. 

How TFA Makes Change Happen:

In this video, Black Lives Matter activist, TFA alumna, and MSNBC contributor Brittany Packnett Cunningham (D.C. Region ’07) look into our approach and vision for creating a more equitable education system.

Connect With Changemakers Like You

Representation matters at Teach For America. That’s why we’re adamant about cultivating a diverse network of leaders committed to expanding opportunities for all children. As a corps member, you’ll work alongside over 62,000 leaders of all different perspectives, professional backgrounds, nationalities, and orientations. 

Learn more about how you can meet with alumni to get their perspective on their corps experience or search our alumni profiles to gain insight into how TFA impacted their career path. 

Let TFA Be Your Launching Pad

Whether you decide to stay in the classroom past your two-year commitment or venture into a field outside of education, you’ll be supported in your goals, no matter what social impact career path you choose. In the pursuit of our shared mission, Teach For America will continue to provide you with events and leadership development opportunities

Teach For America has constantly served as a viable catalyst for amazing change agents in the education and social justice space. We can do the same for you! 

Apply for our corps today and help us create equitable educational experience for all students.