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Teach For America Grows Incoming Teacher Corps Nearly 40% Amid National Landscape of Teacher Recruitment and Retention Challenges

Teach For America’s deepened understanding of Gen Z and evolution of its program are drawing a diverse, accomplished cohort of thousands of new educators into classrooms this fall.

July 27, 2023


NEW YORK CITY August, 10, 2023—As schools open for another academic year, every state faces teacher shortages, especially in schools serving students who are growing up in low-income communities. Teach For America (TFA), a nonprofit that works to confront educational inequity by recruiting outstanding, diverse leaders to teach, tutor, and lead schools and systems, is rising to the occasion by inspiring and engaging thousands of members of Gen Z.  

This school year, Teach For America welcomes nearly 40% more new members of its teacher corps than last year to classrooms across the country. TFA’s Ignite tutoring fellowship is also growing by 40%, connecting thousands of tutors with 3,500 students in 95 schools to lead virtual small-group tutoring that fosters student belonging and accelerates learning in elementary reading and middle school math. These new educators join Teach For America’s almost 65,000 alumni working to challenge the status quo, disrupting, changing, and reinventing systems in pursuit of a brighter future for every child.

“This generation wants to have an impact, and we have to collectively evolve the education system to make that possible,” said Elisa Villanueva Beard, Teach For America’s CEO. “At Teach For America, we have 33 years of experience with the motivations and barriers for outstanding, diverse college graduates entering the teaching profession, and we have worked hard to address these in our efforts. Our shifts to optimize and digitize our training model, integrate wellness principles and offer mental health supports, and invest in new teacher grants and needs-based funding are part of this effort to ensure corps members provide their students an excellent education and have a consistent, fulfilling experience from recruitment through alumni-hood.”

Gen Z is set to make up more than a quarter of the workforce by 2025, and TFA has evolved to meet their needs, alongside the needs of students and communities. Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in history, seeking meaningful careers that align with their values. As a purpose-driven generation, they yearn to address major societal issues and create a positive impact.

The structure of the teaching profession is increasingly out of step with what matters most to this generation of college graduates. The profession has to evolve in order to recruit and retain this generation of leaders who are essential for reinventing the education system. Teacher compensation must improve, and teachers must be provided with supportive environments and working conditions to thrive and experience their full potential and impact. Teach For America has worked to create these conditions in its program, and this generation is responding. 

Teach For America’s programs are designed to build transformational relationships between students and teachers, fuel academic progress, and support TFAcorps members, fellows, and alumni throughout mission-driven, future-shaping careers. Purpose and impact are at the heart of Teach For America’s program, which centers on a shared vision and a belief in every child. TFA provides evidence-backed tools, resources, and support so that teachers can deliver on the meaningful impact they are seeking to have.

Financial stability, work-life balance, and overall wellness are essential to Gen Z's career choices. Low pay has deterred many young people from considering a teaching career. While they desire to make a difference, they also prioritize financial security, a vital dimension of wellness. To address the financial barriers faced by young people who are considering roles in education, Teach For America invests nearly $16 million in new teacher grants and offers need-based financial support; Teach For America teachers are eligible for the AmeriCorps Segal Education Award; and Teach For America advocates for increasing our country’s investment in teachers.

TFA is also addressing the need for greater investments in educator mental health and wellbeing by integrating wellness principles and practices into its training. TFA is partnering with experts in the mental health space to ensure that educators have the resources and support they need to build sustainable and enriching careers. This includes access to affordable therapy, coaching, and other resources that foster wellbeing.

For the last decade, TFA has fielded an incoming corps that is significantly more diverse than the national teacher workforce. About 45% of this year’s new Teach For America teachers are first-generation college graduates, and about 60% identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color). Research shows that a teacher workforce that reflects the racial and socio-economic backgrounds of students is crucial to improving student outcomes.   

TFA’s insights about Gen Z are also informing the work to grow TFA’s Ignite Fellowship tutoring program, which more than doubled in size last school year to 1,650 tutoring fellows who worked with 5,000 students, leading to 81,000 hours of additional learning for students. 

With students and educators facing the persistent effects of the pandemic on our education system, everyone has a role to play in supporting their efforts. Teach For America is committed to working alongside many others in rural and urban communities across the country to ensure that every child has an education that prepares them to learn, lead and thrive. 

About Teach For America

Teach For America works in partnership with communities across the country to expand educational opportunities for children. Founded in 1990, Teach For America finds, develops, and supports a diverse network of leaders who expand opportunity for children from classrooms, schools, and every sector and field that shapes the broader systems in which schools operate. Today, Teach For America is a force of nearly 70,000 alumni, corps members, Ignite fellows, and staff working in pursuit of profound systemic change so that one day 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.


Natalie Laukitis | 646-369-7306 |