On The Record

TFA On The Record

Below we share key facts and address questions we’ve heard recently about our work. If you have additional questions, please email us at questions@teachforamerica.org. We also invite you to learn more with our Annual Report or visit our Top Stories page to join the conversation about educational inequity.

10 Questions People Ask Us

  1. We seek professionals and recent graduates from a wide variety of backgrounds and career interests who have demonstrated a commitment to social justice and the leadership necessary to teach successfully for at least two years in a high-need school. Our current corps members represent nearly 740 colleges and universities.

  2. Diversity is one of our core values. About half of the 2016 corps identify as people of color and about half identify as white; 48 percent come from a low-income background; 34 percent are the first in their family to attend college; and more than a third come to the corps from graduate school or with prior professional experience. We’re dedicated to doing as much as we can to ensure that teaching is a financially sustainable option for a diverse and effective teaching force. 

  3. Research says we’re on the right track, and we’re committed to getting even better. Between 2009 and 2013, statewide studies in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Louisiana concluded that TFA is among each state’s top teacher-preparation programs. The vast majority of principals who work with corps members say they would hire another. Hundreds of corps members and alumni have been honored as teachers of the year by their school, district, county, or state, including the 2014 Arkansas Teacher of the Year; the 2013 teachers of the year in California and Washington, D.C.; and the 2005 National Teacher of the Year.

  4. TFA is one source of candidates for open teaching positions. Corps members do not have special contracts with schools or districts. They apply for open jobs, and they go through the same interview and hiring process as any candidate. Our approach is to bring the best possible people into the field, but no one is obligated to hire our teachers. 

  5. TFA teachers stay in the classroom during the first two years at a high rate: 88% of our first-year teachers return for a second year. Retention among all teachers has been growing in recent years, and we’re excited to see the collective progress being made. We believe still more can be done by all of us to keep effective teachers in under-resourced schools and hard-to-staff positions, no matter which path they have taken to the classroom.

  6. Each year, regional teams work with our partners in school districts and charter schools to understand their hiring needs for the upcoming year. During this process, small shifts in our partnerships are a regular occurrence, and in any region in a given year, corps size may grow, shrink, or remain the same. Hundreds of districts across the country partner with us, and they see our program as an important part of their strategy to meet the short- and long-term needs of students growing up in low-income areas. Regardless of shifts that happen from year to year, the trend across our 26-year history is a growing demand for our corps members and alumni from communities, schools, and districts.    

  7. Seventy-nine percent of our costs are related to recruiting, training, and developing our corps members and alumni. This figure includes critical investments in national infrastructure, brand, and strategy that underpin these efforts. We spend 10 percent of our annual budget on fundraising (on par with other nonprofits) and 11 percent on administrative expenses (lower than other nonprofits). These allocations have earned us 12 consecutive top ratings from Charity Navigator. For more information, view our latest Annual Report.

  8. Like most nonprofits, we need to raise money continually in order to fulfill our mission and see fundraising as one way to invest communities in our work. Our program serves 6,900 active classroom teachers and 46,000 alumni, and involves hundreds of thousands of applicants each year. Our net assets include money we don't yet have (like future grant commitments and anticipated donations), assets we cannot spend (like computers and office furniture), and an endowment that generates investment income to support operations. Consistent with standard accounting practices, we keep cash reserves on hand to cover, at a minimum, three months of expenses.

  9. No, we do not prefer any one mode of school governance. In fact, about twice as many corps members work in district schools as in charters. We do believe that school leaders need autonomy to exercise leadership, and we applaud efforts to support that leadership in charters and districts alike.

  10. Corporate philanthropy (i.e. donations from for-profit corporate entities) made up only 10 percent of our total revenue in the 2014 fiscal year. In the broader category of private donors—including individuals, private foundations, private trusts, and corporations—no single donor represented more than 6 percent of our total revenue. 

Media Response

An Update on Education for Justice and Other TFA Pre-Corps Pilots
May 12, 2016
Teach For America–Bay Area District Partnerships in the 2016-17 School Year
May 12, 2016
New York Post
April 19, 2016
Orienting Teach For America to Better Support Our Regions & Network
March 21, 2016
Alternet
February 20, 2016

In recent years, we’ve opened up applications to college juniors and started piloting engagement and development opportunities for these admitted underclassmen, including the Education for Justice (E4J) pilot. Over the last two years, the E4J pilot has provided a small cohort of around 125...

In response to significant demand from our school partners throughout the region, Teach For America–Bay Area expects to recruit, train, and support up to 180 new first-year teachers for the 2016-17 school year. These new educators will fill vacant teaching positions in high-poverty schools...

An opinion column in the New York Post by Naomi Schaefer Riley looks at our recent decline in applications and hypothesizes it’s tied to the politically connected work our alumni choose to engage in beyond the classroom.

Teach For America recently set out a new strategic direction focused on three objectives: strengthening our community, pivoting our programmatic model, and rallying the next generation of leaders to join this effort. To reach these objectives,...

The news service Alternet recently circulated a post by Drew Franklin that contains numerous inaccuracies. For starters, it misstates the size of our corps: It is 8,600 corps members, not 11,000. These 8,600 teachers join more than 42,000 alumni in a commitment to children and schools in low-...