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The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation awards $100,000 Grant to Teach For America South Louisiana for its Ignite Fellowship

The Ignite Fellowship Provides Tutors to Support K-3rd literacy for Capital Area Students Through Small Virtual Cohorts

October 18, 2022

October 18, 2022, Baton Rouge, LA–  Teach For America (TFA) South Louisiana announced today that it is the recipient of a $100,000 grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation. The grant will support the education nonprofit’s new tutoring program, the Ignite Fellowship, a national high-impact tutoring corps designed to accelerate learning and foster belonging with students in the wake of learning loss brought on by the pandemic.

“We thank the Blue Cross Foundation for their generosity this year and over the last 13 years. As longtime champions of TFA South Louisiana, the Blue Cross Foundation has allowed us to support schools and teachers, in turn providing students in the Capital Area access to an excellent education,” said Laura Vinsant, Executive Director of Teach For America South Louisiana. “Their dedicated support of the Ignite Fellowship allows us to expand our high-impact tutoring program at this critical time, when students and schools need additional supports to accelerate learning following the disruption of the pandemic.”

The learning loss experienced by students last school year was severe.  According to the 2022 LEAP Scores, 34% of 3rd graders in Donaldsonville, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana and Pointe Coupee, are reading proficiently, as measured by Advanced and Mastery scores on the LEAP test. Research shows that tutoring, particularly high-impact, in-school tutoring, is one of the most effective tools available to improve students’ academic outcomes. Teach For America South Louisiana has set a goal that by 2030, twice as many children in Donaldsonville, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana and Pointe Coupee will reach proficiency in 3rd grade reading, indicating they are on a path to economic mobility and a future filled with possibility. 

Through the Ignite Fellowship, TFA South Louisiana gives selected undergraduate college students a part-time paid opportunity to make an immediate impact in reading proficiency by leading small group learning experiences for K-3 students in a virtual setting with the support of veteran educators. Each fellow leads a cohort of 2-4 students, meeting in virtual learning communities during school hours.

The Ignite Fellowship is also layering in an additional focus on student engagement, including growth mindset, belonging, and self-efficacy. Fellows receive ongoing training from TFA and their schools to accelerate student learning, and Teach For America will measure students’ academic and personal growth through school-based assessments and student surveys.

The Ignite Fellowship successfully launched in the Capital Area at the start of the 2021-2022 school year, partnering with two elementary schools and serving 150 students in East Feliciana and Pointe Coupee Parish. The first year of the Ignite Fellowship showed incredible results, at the beginning of the semester, 58% of students answered favorable to enjoying learning and feeling challenged and prepared, and at the end of the semester the overall engagement score jumped to 96%; and 100% of schools reported that students grew in academic learning and engagement.  This fall, with the support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation's funding, 100 Fellows are working across four Capital Area schools to support students at Jackson Elementary School, Rosenwald Elementary School, Upper Pointe Coupee Elementary School, and Valverda Elementary School.

In addition to the generous support from the Blue Cross Foundation, the Ignite Fellowship is also championed by the Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation.

“Teach For America South Louisiana is grateful for the support of our donors,” shared Laura Vinsant. “The Ignite Fellowship is one tool in a larger toolkit that we can use to provide additional support to Capital Area students to ensure they are on-track to thrive and read proficiently.”

About Teach For America

Teach For America works in partnership with urban and rural communities in more than 50 regions across the country to expand educational opportunity for children. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding leaders to 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 nearly 60,000 alumni and corps members committed to profound systemic change. From classrooms to districts to state houses across America, they’re reimagining education to realize the day when every child has an equal opportunity to learn, to grow, to influence, and to lead. For more information, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation works each day to improve the health and lives of Louisianians by empowering everyday people to do extraordinary good. By building and funding coalitions of friends, families and neighbors, the Foundation hopes to build a healthier Louisiana, particularly for its children. The foundation is funded solely by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, but is a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity. In 2020, Blue Cross and the Blue Cross Foundation invested more than $14 million in Louisiana’s communities and nonprofits with programs and services reaching 6.4 million Louisianians.


Reshma Melwani | Teach For America