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Teach For America and the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation Partner to Address the Social-Emotional Needs of Students and Teachers

A One Million Dollar Grant from the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation Will Support the Expansion of Teach For America’s Social-Emotional Learning Program

December 16, 2021

Why Oprah Donated $1 Million to Teach For America’s Social-Emotional Learning Program

NEW YORK, December 16, 2021 — Today, Teach For America announced a $1,000,000 grant from the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation (OWCF) to support the organization’s social-emotional learning (SEL) program. This gift will allow Teach For America (TFA) to further expand its existing SEL program, ensuring that teachers, students, and staff have the support, trainings, and tools needed to sustain their wellness and wellbeing.

With the support of the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation, Teach For America will expand its existing SEL program to ensure that its more than 4,700 first- and second-year teachers can recognize and address the connection between social-emotional learning and academics and build the skills and mindsets necessary to foster SEL learning for their students and themselves. Through training, coaching, and ongoing professional development, TFA’s educators learn to embed SEL into content instruction, model SEL competencies in their teaching, and help students practice and apply their SEL skills and mindsets. All of this work is approached with a racial equity and trauma-informed lens.

“Oprah Winfrey shares our unwavering belief that all children should have the opportunity to learn, lead, and thrive, and that teachers should have the support and resources to help them,” shared Elisa Villanueva Beard, Chief Executive Officer of Teach For America. “With rates of trauma rising to crisis levels as a result of the pandemic, the deep connection between students’ academic growth and social emotional development has never been more important. By supporting educators to foster social-emotional learning for their students and for themselves, we create safe and inclusive learning environments and help build stronger communities.”

As teachers continue to navigate the unprecedented disruption to learning and the emotional trauma caused by the pandemic, they are highlighting an urgent need to address the social-emotional needs of students. Research has shown the effects of fostering students’ social-emotional learning in the classroom, including positive long-term impacts on students’ academic achievement, behavior, and well-being. Social-emotional learning also positively impacts teachers, their wellbeing, and their sense of self-efficacy in the classroom. While Teach For America’s SEL program predates the pandemic, this work has become even more essential in light of the rising rates of anxiety, depression, and burnout that have impacted both students and educators. 

“I wanted to give my own support to the uplifting work being done across the country by these dedicated and dynamic educators,” said Oprah Winfrey.

Teach For America’s vision of educational equity depends on the holistic wellbeing of teachers and their ability to sustain their resilience and leadership. In addition to providing SEL training, TFA has partnered with external providers to offer mental health support and resources at no cost to educators and plans to further expand this offering with the support of the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation.

About Teach For America 

Teach For America works in partnership with 350 urban and rural communities across the country to expand educational opportunity for children. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding leaders who make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity. Today, Teach For America is a force of 66,000 alumni and corps members working in more than 9,000 schools nationwide in pursuit of profound systemic change. From classrooms to districts to state houses across America, they are reimagining education to realize the day when every child has an equal opportunity to learn, lead, thrive, and co-create a future filled with possibility. Teach For America is a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network. For more information, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation

The Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation (OWCF) supports organizations around the world, with a focus on youth education for those in underserved communities. Since 1993, OWCF has contributed more than $400,000 million in grants and donations to organizations that serve children, families, and communities. The organization has supported the education of over 72,000 people and served over 75 million meals in the United States and abroad.

In 2002, during a visit with Nelson Mandela, Ms. Winfrey pledged to build a school in South Africa, and has since contributed more than $200 million towards providing education for academically gifted girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. Graduates of The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls have continued to higher education both in South Africa and at colleges and universities around the world.

In 2019, Ms. Winfrey visited Morehouse College in Atlanta to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Oprah Winfrey Scholars program, which has supported over 700 men with college scholarships, and announced another donation to bring her total support to $25 million.

In 2020, Ms. Winfrey committed $15 million to COVID-19 relief efforts in underserved communities in her “home cities” of Chicago, Milwaukee, Kosciusko, Mississippi, Baltimore and Los Angeles.

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Media Contact: Lindsay Kelly,