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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 social impact careers.

Teach For America alumni social justice rally

By Alexzandria Cormier-Hill

January 9, 2020

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 social justice careers. 

If you want to shape and develop powerful social justice movements, here are three dynamic 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. 

In this video, Black Lives Matter activist, TFA alumna, and long-time TFA staff member Brittany Packnett Cunningham (D.C. Region ’07) helps us take a deeper dive into our approach as she explains our vision for influencing the education sector. Do you see yourself in the picture?

How TFA Makes Change Happen:

During their two years of teaching in public schools, Teach For America corps members learn how to create lesson plans, foster relationships and develop leadership skills that equip them to become powerful advocates for their students in the classroom, community, and beyond. After completing their two-year commitment, many alumni stay to continue their career in education while others venture into sectors to become a voice for marginalized children in areas such as law, advocacy, medicine, technology and many more.

By recruiting potential leaders from various backgrounds and providing assistance in the classroom, we’re able to foster a coalition of classroom advocates working toward educational equity.

Develop Skills That Prepare You For The Fight Ahead

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 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 issues to their Teach For America experience. To aid you in becoming the thought leader you want to be, TFA arms you with 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. 

Change Can Start With You. If Not You, Then Who?

Apply to our 2020 corps today to optimize your professional opportunities and create equitable education for all students.


Connect With a Community of Changeagents 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 professionals with different perspectives, professional backgrounds, nationalities, and orientations

You can meet with alumni or read their stories to see how TFA impacted their career paths.

Here are a few reasons why our TFA alumni chose the classroom to prepare them for a social impact career.

"Like teaching, I wanted a platform to educate and inspire people. Journalism allows me to do that on the largest scale possible and weigh in on important social issues and current affairs."

“When my parents adopted a baby girl from China, I realized how my sister would have access to a high-quality education because she was now part of a middle-class family—something millions of students in our country lack. This struck me as unjust and against America’s ideals. Once I learned about TFA, it became clear that joining the corps would be the most impactful way to address the problem.”

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 changeagents in the education and social justice space. We can do the same for you! 

Apply to our 2020 corps today and help us create equitable educational experience for all students.