How City Year Prepares You for Teach For America & Beyond
Two City Year alumni share how making the transition to TFA was the natural next step for deepening their impact.
At Teach For America, we are on a mission to make educational equity a reality. We find outstanding leaders who are passionate about education to teach for a minimum of two years at underserved schools in low-income communities—leaders who become fierce advocates for their students’ success. Similarly, City Year is committed to improving outcomes for students in under-resourced schools.
If you are a City Year corps member or alumni, you are uniquely positioned to thrive as an educator with Teach For America. You know what it’s like to work in a school in a low-income community and what support is needed outside of the classroom for your students to succeed. Your on-the-ground experience is invaluable.
While both organizations are working toward the same outcome, there are important differences between their approaches: TFA corps members are full-time classroom teachers, while City Year members support students as tutors and through mentorship. Both roles are critical to creating an equitable education system that gives all students an equal shot at opportunity.
Similar to City Year, TFA has over 40 regions where you can apply to teach, many of which overlap with the communities at which City Year corps members also work. Depending on qualifications and regional need, many City Year alumni have the opportunity to stay in their communities and even their schools when they begin TFA.
As you consider what your leadership after City Year could look like, Teach For America may be your natural next career move. We spoke to two TFA corps members who joined after one year of service at City Year.
The Pathway to Becoming a Career Counselor
Nia Flanagan’s career in education started right out of undergrad when she made the decision to join City Year. She knew she wanted to be part of the education system, but wasn’t sure to what extent. As a student success coach in a Columbia, South Carolina, elementary school, she was able to get hands-on experience in the classroom focusing on mentorship, tutoring, and community building. She learned to build relationships with students and utilize data to advocate for their growth.
Nia’s City Year experience gave her the confidence to pursue her next venture, being a teacher. In determining her path forward, she chose Teach For America to help her learn how to lead a classroom. Nia knew she wanted to grow as an educator and TFA helped her do that through pre-service training, classroom management coaching, and professional development opportunities. As a high school special education teacher in Memphis, Tennessee, she saw a need to help her students' explore how their interests could lead to a promising career after graduating high school and college. Witnessing this educational inequity firsthand sparked Nia’s next step in her career path, becoming a career counselor.
In the spring, Nia will complete her master’s program in career counseling and complete her internship in the same school district where she graduated high school. As a career counselor, she is excited to meet students where they are in the career exploration process. She wants to open her students' eyes to new possibilities and help them grow as they work to achieve their dreams.
Nia’s experiences as a City Year and TFA corps member created opportunities to deepen her understanding of the complexities of the education system. “It shaped me into an effective leader and advocate for positive changes in education and beyond,” says Nia. “Both programs offered a unique combination of hands-on experience, training, and a commitment to social impact.” She shared that the transition from being the classroom support behind to the lead teacher can feel overwhelming. She advises future TFA corps members to, “take advantage of the resources Teach For America offers you during pre-service and utilize your leadership coach.”
Like City Year, TFA is committed to helping corps members grow as leaders, no matter the career pathway they choose.
Building Relationships and Making a Difference
James Caruso, another City Year alum who joined TFA, now leads his own dual-language (Spanish and English) kindergarten and 1st grade classes in the same school where he served as an AmeriCorps member for City Year in Washington, DC.
James had mentors of his own during his time with City Year. They helped him hone his abilities as a teacher. “City Year allowed me to learn about the day-to-day operations of a school from a third-party perspective—not as a teacher or student, but rather a support,” James says. “Having this knowledge coming into Teach For America allows me to continue working on bettering my teaching and making sure that every day for my students is better than the last.”
James considered applying to Teach For America directly out of his undergraduate program, but did not yet feel prepared to lead a classroom on his own. He knew from friends and colleagues that jumping into the classroom straight from college could be challenging, and he was seeking an experience that would better prepare him. His time as a City Year corps member gave him the opportunity to understand the school system and how to best support students before leading his own class full time as a TFA corps member.
“I knew that I wanted to be a lead teacher in a classroom setting, something that I found out quickly over my first few months with City Year,” he said. “I knew through my time at City Year that, if I was to be a classroom leader, I would do my best to ensure that teaching would not be just a two-year job, but rather a career.
Creating a Strong Foundation for a Career in Teaching
As both Nia and James shared, serving as a City Year corps member has provided a valuable, unique perspective as they deepen their impact through Teach For America.
If you’re passionate about continuing your direct impact after City Year, we encourage you to learn more about what it means to Stream an information session where you'll discover who we are, what we do, and how our programs work.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need a bachelors degree to apply for TFA?
Yes! If you’re still pursuing your college degree, you can check out Ignite for virtual service opportunities.
How does the partnership between City Year and Teach For America benefit City Year applicants?
Anyone who has served with City Year previously, or currently, will automatically be invited to interview with Teach For America with proof of your service with City Year.
How does the Americorps education benefit work if I've already done a year of service in City Year?
AmeriCorps states you earn the education benefit for two years total, so if you used one with City Year, you’ll get another year during your first year of service with Teach for America.
What are the career benefits of doing TFA?
- Grad school and employer partnerships including deferrals, scholarships, fee waivers, internships, and more
- A diverse and supportive network of nearly 70,000 alumni and staff, working together in pursuit of educational equity
- A career and networking website exclusively for our network, which includes a job board and the opportunity to connect directly with hiring managers
- Skill-building and fellowship opportunities intended to accelerate impact in school leadership, social entrepreneurship, elected leadership, and more
- Membership in Leadership for Educational Equity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that supports leaders with classroom experience to engage civically and politically
What are the financial benefits of doing TFA?
Corps members are full-time teachers hired by a local school or district and are certified to teach while in the corps. For salary and compensation, they receive:
- Full salary, vacation, and health benefits: These come from your school district and salaries range from around $33K - $68K per year, depending on the region
- Transitional support stipend: All incoming corps members automatically qualify for a $3,000 to $6,500 Baseline Regional Stipend based on region. An additional $3,000 Pell/EAD Stipend is also automatically added for all corps members who are Pell Grant recipients or EAD holders, regardless of region. All corps members also have the option to apply for additional need-based support, including grants, and zero-interest loans.
- Other financial incentives: Including, based on eligibility, AmeriCorps Awards of around $6K per year, regionally-based signing bonuses, and housing partnerships
How does TFA support me in the application/interview process?
Anyone with City Year experience is guaranteed a connection with a recruiter from TFA. Together, they can discuss questions, gain access to virtual events to support the application and interview process, and speak one on one about concerns as they arise.