The Collective is Teach For America’s national association for alumni of color. Learn how the Greater Chicago-Northwest Indiana chapter is thinking about their work and strengthening the local movement for educational equity.
December 11, 2018
Teach For America’s alumni association of color, The Collective, has more than 13,000 incredible members nationwide. At its core, the group is focused on growing leadership capacity, creating community, and increasing access to opportunities.
The Greater Chicago-Northwest Indiana Collective chapter launched last winter. Its members bring different experiences and perspectives to the work, but they’re united by their passion for the group’s mission. “I think it is important for alumni of color to have a support system and a network that’s dedicated to leveraging their impact beyond their corps experience,” says member Rupa Ramadurai (Miami-Dade ’09), the Assistant General Counsel to the Illinois State Board of Education.
Currently, the Greater Chicago-Northwest Indiana chapter is making sure they have a strong foundation. They have spent time on a listening tour, connecting with the local alumni community. Member Chloe Chen (Phoenix ’11), a director of strategic engagement at By The Hand, shares that members are “going out and having conversations with other alumni of color, asking them why they have or haven’t engaged.”
Chloe thinks this community engagement will be a huge asset. “We’re saying, ‘Okay, let’s make sure that we know what the people we’re serving need before we launch into giving them what we think they should want.’”
“Without these voices at the table, we run the risk of perpetuating the racist systems and ideologies that have led us to this point in public education.”JuDonne HemingwayAssistant PrincipalGreater Chicago-Northwest Indiana 2011
As a result of these conversations, The Collective has piloted events like Breakdown: The School to Prison Pipeline, which brought community members together to discuss the impact of school discipline policies on students and families. Member JuDonne Hemingway, an assistant principal, will also be presenting at the School Leaders of Color Conference on The Collective’s behalf. They have more programming planned for 2020 and are excited about engaging more alumni and community partners in their work.
With everything they do, The Collective is focused on working towards Teach For America’s mission. JuDonne believes The Collective “helps redefine the narrative of who Teach For America is and helps dismantle the myths that keep other incredible leaders and future educators from engaging in the work.”
JuDonne says, “Without these voices at the table, we run the risk of perpetuating the racist systems and ideologies that have led us to this point in public education.”