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44 Stories of Teach For America Social Justice Advocates and Their Impact

By coming face-to-face with systemic barriers, TFA has built a coalition of social justice warriors empowered and equipped to develop innovative, practical solutions aimed at ending educational injustice. 

Teach For America Social Justice Warriors

By Alexzandria Cormier-Hill

January 9, 2020

Advocating for education equity doesn’t happen in the vacuum of a school. Teach For America corps members and alumni have seen first-hand how food insecurity, unemployment, homelessness, deportation, gender-identity bullying, and other societal problems have negatively impacted students and their ability to focus, learn, and engage in class. 

Check out these powerful stories of Teach For America members and how they’re approaching different social justice issues in hopes of improving the lives of children and their learning environments nationwide.

Leading Change in My Hometown

While teaching in the corps, Taylor Toynes (Dallas-Fort Worth ‘14) discovered that he had the power to lead transformational change in his classroom and community. Today, he continues to create opportunities for kids in his hometown of Oak Cliff, Texas, where he also taught as a corps member

Inequity Warriors

Our Teach For America corps members and alumni are familiar with the unjust societal barriers that impede the learning process inside and outside the classroom. It’s hard to concentrate on what a teacher is saying when you haven’t eaten since the day before. Homework doesn’t seem as important when you’re trying to figure out how to help your family make ends meet. These are just a couple of burdens teachers try to lift for their students every day. See what these inequity warriors are doing to disrupt the toxic cycle of injustice and how improving external factors can provide better learning environments for students.

1. Standing for Students, Schools, and Teachers (Advocacy)

2. What Learning Can Look Like in the Wake of Disaster (Environmental Justice) 

3. What Is The Racial Identity Development Gap, And How Can It Affect Your Teaching? (White Privilege)

4. A Buffalo Judge’s Work to Fight Trafficking Expands (Human Trafficking)

5. Three Careers Where Going Green Meets Social Justice (Environmental Justice)

6. With Students’ Futures on the Line, These Teachers are Leading In Unexpected Ways (Immigration)

7. A Teach For America Alumnus Is Leading A Movement Of Hope In Dallas (Underserved  Communities)

8. A 'Braven' New World: Connecting First-Generation College Students To Amazing First Jobs (Employment) 

9. The Road to a Healthy Education May Run Through Medical School (Healthcare)

10. A Memphis Neighborhood’s Hidden History of Homeownership and Resilience (Unemployment)

11. Feeding Student Achievement by Fighting for Food Justice (Food Injustice)

12. Leading a Movement to Shut Down Youth Prisons in New Jersey (School to Prison Pipeline)

“I was surprised how self-aware I became during the corps. As a person of color, I thought serving people who ‘looked like me’ would be seamless. The corps taught me how diverse people are and how experiences shape us.”

Tia Corniel

Principal, City School District of Albany

Phoenix Corps Member 2006

Identity Advocates

Teach For America’s diverse network of leaders confront educational inequity by teaching and working with unwavering commitment from every sector of society to create a society free from this injustice. Here’s how, by cultivating a community of advocates from various backgrounds, we’re able to understand, support and speak up for our students in more ways than one.

13. Constant Gardeners (Other Abilities)

14. Supporting Students of All Abilities During Disability Awareness Month and Beyond (Other Abilities)

15. Standing Up for Transgender Students (LGBTQ)

16. Four Leaders Fighting For LGBTQ+ Kids And Teachers (LGBTQ)

17. Black Leaders Work to Solve 3 Educational Issues Essential To Their Community (Black Community)

18. 13 Black Leaders Who are Shaping the Future of Their Communities (Black Community)

19. Working to Expand Opportunities in the Latinx Community (Latinx Community)

20. 10 Latinx Leaders Changing Tulsa’s Educational Landscape (Latinx Community)

21. Meet 5 Native Leaders Who Are Changing the Narrative for Native Communities (Native American Community)

22. Promoting Indigenous Sovereignty Through Education (Native American Community)

23. 10 Leaders Fighting For Change This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (AAPI Community)

24. Unity In Diversity—A Summit For YES Prep Asian American-Pacific Islander Students  (AAPI Community)

25. Why TFA Supports DACA and Undocumented Students (Immigrant Community)

26. Fighting for Asylum Seekers at the Border (Immigrant Community)

 

Change Can Start With You. If Not You, Then Who?

Apply to our 2020 corps today to optimize your professional opportunities and create equitable education for all students.

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Alumni Career Paths: Laura Komarek

Teaching middle school special education enabled Laura Komarek (Greater New Orleans Corps Member 2011) to be an advocate for students in her law career. Learn how her time as a Teach For America corps member transformed her perspective.

Institution Challengers

Rules make the world go around—so the people who influence the rules determine how the world functions. Utilizing their student’s stories as fuel, these Teach For America trailblazers are challenging systems to create equitable laws and policies that will create safe places for children to learn without fear, doubt, or worry. From DACA legislation to segregation cases, see how they’re raising voices on behalf of students everywhere.

“I also built connections with my fellow Colorado corps members that evolved into an amazing support structure as we worked through challenges of teaching in Denver. We still stay in touch as we all work on closing the achievement gap in different ways.”

Dan Carroll

Co-Founder/Chief Product Officer, Clever

Colorado Corps Member 2009

Industry Shakers

Many TFA members use their classroom experience to establish social enterprises as a means to mitigate the obstacles that prevent children from experiencing the quality education they deserve. Here are a few TFA industry movers and shakers to be aware of.

37. Meet Teach For America’s 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 Honorees 

38. Two Alums Awarded the 2019 Echoing Green Fellowship 

39. From Front Lines Of Iraq To Front Lines Of Advocacy, TFA Alumnus Continues To Serve (Nonprofit)

40. How Businesses Are Learning About Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (Corporate Culture)

41. Programmed for Success: 600+ Hours of Code Across Corps Member and Alumni Classrooms (Technology Industry) 

42. Alumni Spotlight: Liv Dooley, Nonprofit Founder (Nonprofit)

43. Meet the 2019 Social Innovation Award Winners (Social Enterprise)

44. Deep DIY Research Is Behind this Entrepreneur’s Winning Financial Aid App (Finance)

 

As the saying goes, “Not all superheroes wear capes.” Though we can’t save the world in one fell swoop, our Teach For America change agents continue to show up day-after-day to ensure that our students have the support they need to thrive in the classroom so that one day all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education. 

True change can start with you. If you’re ready to answer the call, apply for the corps today to strengthen your social impact efforts and make a lifelong impact on students.Join a movement of leaders fighting to change inequitable systems!