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Teach For America’s Ignite Fellowship Featured in 2024 FutureEd Report Highlighting Promising High-Dosage Tutoring Programs

Ignite Fellowship Kicks Off 8th Cohort of Tutors to Support more than 3,500 K-8 Students in Literacy and Math Recovery

February 26, 2024

NEW YORK, February 26, 2024 — Last month Education Recovery Scorecard (a collaboration between the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University and The Educational Opportunity Project at Stanford University) issued a report on the first year of academic recovery for school districts in 30 states.  The report concludes that Districts can extend the recovery efforts into the next school year by contracting for tutoring and other extended learning opportunities. In particular, high-quality tutoring programs that are embedded in the school day are more effective, particularly in low-income communities. 

Education nonprofit and leadership development organization Teach For America kicks off the eighth semester of its national high-impact tutoring program, the Ignite Fellowship. Launched in Phoenix, AZ in the fall of 2020, Ignite currently operates across 28 communities and is embedded in 105 schools across the country. To date, the program, which was developed in response to learning gaps exacerbated by the pandemic, has brought tutoring services to over 3,500 students at a time when learning interventions are at critical need amongst school districts nationwide. 

Designed to accelerate learning in elementary reading and middle school math, Ignite leverages research-based best practices for high-impact tutoring. Fellows are supported by school-based veteran educators who adapt the school’s curriculum to support fellows to individualize tutoring sessions with 2-3 students. Fellows work virtually with the same students three times a week during the course of the school day for approximately 3 hours a week over 11 weeks.  

In addition to accelerating learning, the Ignite program aims to foster belonging among students. TFA recruits undergraduate students who are exceptional, equity-minded leaders committed to building deep relationships with students. Fellows foster belonging by creating space for students to be themselves, integrating their identities and cultures into lessons, affirming their capacity to succeed, and deepening student agency.

“When we began to build the Ignite Fellowship, we looked closely at the science of learning and development and the research underscored what we knew -  students need to feel connected with educators in order to grow academically,” said Katie Tennessen Hooten, founder of Ignite. “If we want young people to thrive in school, we need to create environments where they feel a deep, genuine sense of belonging. The training Ignite fellows receive not only focuses on effective academic strategies, but resources and tools that help  them foster a sense of belonging with students.”

Earlier this year, Ignite’s partnership with Jackson Elementary School in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana was featured in Learning Curve: Lessons from the Tutoring Revolution in Public Education, a report released by Georgetown University think tank FutureEd, in partnership with the National Student Support Accelerator. According to FutureEd’s research,  high-dosage tutoring—four or fewer students working with the same tutor for at least 30 minutes during the school day, three times a week for at least several months—produces the best results. 

A spring 2023 data set from a single semester at Jackson Elementary School shows the Ignite program was among the interventions that contributed to a 56% increase in students scoring proficient on their early literacy assessment, earning the school a B progress grade as assigned by the LDOE for the 2022-2023 school year. 

“We’ve seen the long-term toll the pandemic has had on student learning and teacher wellbeing,” said Megan Phillips, a TFA alum and Principal at Jackson Elementary. “Schools alone cannot solve these problems. It takes community support and innovative programming, and we couldn’t be more excited to have Teach For America’s Ignite Fellowship continue for a third year on our campus. The proof is in the numbers. Our students' scores are up, and our teachers feel supported.” 

With many school districts looking to spend the remainder of their Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding before the year’s end, investments in school-based tutoring programs, like Ignite, are not only necessary but critical for students most impacted by learning loss brought on during the pandemic. In a recent op-ed for US News and World Report, Teach For America CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard explains that as districts “spend these funds, [they] should collect data that shows the difference their investments make so they can have a strong case for states to pick up the baton and sustain effective innovations after ESSER funding runs out.”

Ignite builds on Teach For America’s over 30 years of experience recruiting, developing, and supporting talent and partnering with communities across the country to help students overcome the systemic barriers to an excellent education. With a cohort of over 1,500 tutors for 2023-2024, the Ignite Fellowship brings exceptional, equity-oriented leaders into classrooms virtually. At least 50% of fellows identify as BIPOC and at least 40% identify as coming from a low-income background and/or the first in their family to go to college. While the Ignite Fellowship is in its third year nationally, the program is already creating a pipeline to the teaching profession with 43% of fellows who were college seniors applying to teach through the 2023 Teach For America corps, and 85% of those applicants accepted into the teaching program. 

For Vanderbilt University senior Bridget Hall, her experience as an Ignite fellow is what propelled her to apply early to Teach For America’s corps. “It’s incredible to be able to be a part of a student’s learning journey, and this has been such an influential experience for me in discovering my passion for teaching,” shared Hall. Next fall Bridget will reach over 150 students over the next two years alone teaching middle school math in Baltimore.

“As we connect with Ignite fellows, so many are coming away from the program with a real sense of excitement around teaching and more so a feeling of pride knowing they can create significant impact with students and within schools," shared Tennessen Hooten. “They’ve been given a glimpse at what the profession looks like and the role they can play in a young person’s life, and we’re thrilled to see many of them take the leap and apply to be teachers.”

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.