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What Being Part of Teach For America Means in Our Country Today

Today we welcome our 2017 Corps to our community of 56,000 people. 

Elisa Villanueva Beard's class when she was a TFA corps member

By Elisa Villanueva Beard

September 13, 2017

Teach For America Community,

In the last year, I’ve spoken with hundreds of college seniors who are questioning what their paths should be after graduation. They see a country that seems to be slipping backward as we witness attacks on affirmative action and DACA, and racist and xenophobic violence.

But they also see signs of progress: Harvard’s milestone of a first class that is more than half students of color; a new national initiative to address the root causes of racial violence and tension in our country; and bipartisan efforts in a growing number of states to end the school-to-prison pipeline.

When I’m searching for hope in the face of hard truths, I turn to our TFA community, as I have since I first set foot in the classroom in the fall of 1998 in Phoenix. To all of us who joined this fight for educational equity and excellence—whether it was a month ago, a decade ago, or a quarter-century ago—I have a message about what being part of Teach For America means in our country today.

Collective Leadership

Teach For America's CEO, Elisa Villanueva Beard (Phoenix '98), on the power of the TFA network working together to fight educational inequity and work to "create the world as it should be."

This fall, we have 3,500 extraordinary new members stepping up to lead classrooms for the first time. Our new corps is a diverse and outstanding group representing 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. They are student-body presidents. They are Division I athletes. They are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. They are award-winning artists and scholars and innovators. For the fourth year in a row, at least one-third are the first in their families to graduate from college, about half identify as a person of color, and about half identify as white. Since 2013, more than 190 DACA recipients have joined us.

To our 2017 Corps, welcome. You’ve considered what’s at stake and chosen to rebuild our country from the place that holds its future: the classroom. You are part of a community of 56,000 people, and all of us who have been in your shoes are sending good vibes your way in your first semester of school.

Please know that Teach For America is standing beside you and your students, centered in our core values and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusiveness.

With hope and gratitude for the chance to do this work alongside you,