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Ideas and Solutions

An Open Letter From Teach For America CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard

With schools closed for the COVID-19 outbreak, Teach For America's CEO sends a message of support and inspiration to our network.

By Elisa Villanueva Beard

March 27, 2020

This is an unprecedented moment. Students, parents, and teachers are navigating an incredibly challenging and disruptive time without a clear end point. Right now, I am especially thinking about our students in low-income communities who depend on schools for so much. Across the United States, schools serving more than 55 million students in more than 124,000 schools have closed in response to COVID-19. Students not only face the significant loss of learning time, their families are also dealing with a lack of child care and healthcare, financial insecurity, and employment uncertainties. 

In this moment, as always, Teach For America will work for excellence and equity to ensure all children can learn, lead, and thrive. Our corps members work in more than 2,400 schools in 350 communities across the country. We are working around the clock to support our corps members and to help them support their students' transition to online learning. Our network of over 60,000 alumni and corps members is laser-focused on meeting urgent needs across our country. Last week, Teach For America launched a virtual space on Slack for our network to connect and collaborate for solutions. In a matter of days, nearly 2,000 alumni and corps members have joined together to share resources and discuss solutions for challenges facing their communities. Through all of this, we will continue to be present to the needs of our students and families who will be profoundly impacted. 

I am drawing inspiration right now from how we are coming together in different and powerful ways. Corps members are learning new ways to teach and reach their students. Alumni—working in schools, health care, community leadership, and more—are already identifying needs and resources for kids. From the first-year corps member in Cleveland leading a space to share online resources to teach 11th-grade English to the alumni nonprofit leader closing the technology gap and distributing computers to students in Houston, our network is charging forward, meeting this moment. 

I am thinking of our community in this challenging time and am hoping all of us can stay healthy and safe. Our work is more important than ever, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of Teach For America. We will get through this unprecedented challenge the same way we do so much of this work: together. 

Onward,

Elisa

Alumni, corps members, and staff are invited to join our network Slack channel to connect with each other to find support, resources, and inspiration during this challenging time.