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The Collective: Community and Support for Alumni Educators of Color

With a growing network of leaders of color in Indianapolis, we're committed to fostering a strong community of access and support. Collective Indianapolis provides opportunities and community for alumni of color.

Donavan White and Jordan Johnson

By Cece Zhou

July 9, 2019

The Collective is TFA’s national association for alumni of color that grows leadership capacity, strengthens community, and increases access to opportunities—all in the interest of serving our students.

Locally, the number of alumni of color in Indianapolis is growing; nearly 200 are working in classrooms, schools, and various fields and sectors across the city to collectively realize greater opportunity and access for all children. Additionally, nearly 40% of our incoming 2019 corps members identify as people of color. We are the largest source of teachers of color to Indianapolis schools and are committed to continuing to diversify our network.

By increasing the diversity of leaders in our community and fostering community and learning across lines of difference, we’re dedicating ourselves to realizing, with common purpose and shared values, our vision: the day when, through an empowering education, all Indianapolis children to lead lives of their choosing and contribute to a more vibrant and just city.

One way we’re directly supporting alumni of color is through the Indianapolis chapter of the Collective, which seeks to be a place where educators of color can come together to learn from one another and fellowship together. Occasionally partnering with other local organizations and businesses like Leadership for Educational Equity and Tea’s Me Café, the local association hosts events that grow personal leadership, provide stress relief, and strengthen community through holiday celebrations, among other supports.

Below, Collective Indianapolis Board Chair Donavan White (Indy ’12) and Vice Chair Jordan Johnson (Mississippi ’14) share anecdotes and reflections about their work as well as personal convictions for continuing to be involved with TFA and with our collective work for educational equity as alumni.

Why are these events and resources important for people of color to access?

Jordan: I feel that these events are important for members of color because it is vital to have a community that you can identify with. For every person who attends our events, I want them to feel welcomed and feel like they can be themselves. In this work it is essential to bring your full self to the table.

Donavan: I always find it incredibly valuable to converse and work with other educators who are people of color. It is not more or less value than what I might get from a white counterpart, but it is just a different type of experience. The opportunities to have these conversations with other educators of color don’t always present themselves in the school districts and communities where we teach and work. So we need to have a space or some type of forum where we, as educators of color, can come together. The Collective aims to be a means by which we can achieve this goal.

What is your personal ‘why’ for being in the long-term work for educational equity?

Jordan: My personal 'why' for being in this work is my love of my community. I am very passionate about being an advocate for people of color in this city. I love these children and love fighting for them to have great education.

Donavan: I want school to be a place where students feel invested in by teachers and other adults in the schools and community. No matter how big or small a school may be, it’s still very easy for students to get lost in the shuffle, especially in schools and communities where there is a lack of resources. I want all students to have someone who they can connect with and stay vested in school.

What was the most memorable experience you took away from the corps?

Jordan: My most memorable experience from the corps is when my students received their scores on the ACT. It was the first time the school was administering the test, and it was a very stressful time for myself and the students. When they received their scores, some of them ran into my room to show me. I was so excited that I began writing their scores on scrap paper and sticking them up around the room. That was a moment of pure joy and validated all of our hard work throughout the year.

Donavan: My biggest takeaway from my time in the corps is that there is a real need to need to retain talent within the city. As an Indianapolis native I’ve always been impressed with how many skilled and talented individuals TFA brings in with each new corps group; but there is still so much more we as a city and community that we can be doing to make Indy a place where people feel like they can make a true difference and impact as well as a great life. At the end of the day, the students and families of our city need and deserve the best we can deliver.


Are you an alum of color living in Indianapolis? Join the Collective Kickoff event on Friday, July 26, 2019 at 5pm at Condado Tacos Broad Ripple. RSVP today!

Connect with the Collective:

Instagram: @thecollectiveindy


GroupMe: The Collective