The Collective: Meeting The Moment Then & Now
October 21, 2021
In 2011, I sat in a DC Convention Center ballroom beside my friends and fellow BIPOC corps members and alumni at the People of Color Reception as part of Teach For America’s 20th Anniversary Summit. I remember feeling inspired as I looked across the room full of BIPOC leaders in various professional sectors from across the country. I was proud to be in that space with my people and even more proud to be one of the thousands who were continuing the work towards One Day. Little did I know that shortly after this experience, efforts to formalize this community of leaders would begin, and an enduring structure to connect us, hone our leadership skills, and mobilize us to make a significant difference in our communities would take shape.
The Collective, Teach For America’s national alumni association for alumni who identify as Black, Native, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Multiethnic, and Multiracial, was formed to ensure those of us who share the identities of the communities we serve were leading and influencing change towards educational equity.
Over the past 10 years, The Collective has been a point of connection, a source of leadership development, and a partner to communities. We’ve sought to live out our vision and mission and embody our 3 pillars, through programming and experiences powered by The Collective team and the work of regional chapters across the country.
We remain steadfast and passionate about what we do because we each have a unique understanding of the issues our communities face. Each of us has the potential to make a profound additional contribution given our close proximity to the issues TFA seeks to address. Our own lived experiences give us the power and the tools to dismantle systemic oppression and create the conditions under which all students, especially those who reflect our backgrounds, can and will achieve and succeed.
Efforts towards change must be shaped by those of us who are most directly impacted by educational inequity. When we pause to reflect on the past 10 years of The Collective’s existence (or even the last year and half alone), we clearly see that there is much work to be done. It is our responsibility to harness the talents, perspectives, and leadership of this dynamic network of 21,000 BIPOC alumni to not only shape, but lead efforts towards educational equity. Individually, collectively, and in partnership with others, we can achieve large-scale systems change. I wholeheartedly believe our greatest impact will occur when we do the work together as The Collective – a connected group of BIPOC alumni - in coalition with others.
“Our own lived experiences give us the power and the tools to dismantle systemic oppression and create the conditions under which all students, especially those who reflect our backgrounds, can and will achieve and succeed.”
If ever there was a time for us to join together in an effort to bring about wide-spread, enduring change, the time is now.
Our nation continues to reel from historic racism and oppression, and those bearing the brunt of it are those who look like us. We have a responsibility to our communities to act, and my ask is that you take action with fellow BIPOC alumni via The Collective. Engage, learn, and grow through our national program offerings, and get in partnership with local communities through our regional chapters of The Collective.
Fellow BIPOC alumni, we have not a moment to lose. The fate of our students and communities is at stake.
Remind yourself of why you joined Teach For America and recommit yourself to One Day by getting involved with The Collective.