Meaningful, sustainable systems change requires the focus of leaders who are rooted in their local culture, who are familiar with the challenges and opportunities, and who believe in the potential of all children.
How Change Happens
The educational challenges our country faces are deeply rooted. Solving them will take many interventions from many directions over a prolonged period of time.
Teach For America’s contribution to the effort is leadership. Our approach draws on historical lessons of what enduring change requires:
- Leaders both inside and outside of the system, working to challenge the status quo and demonstrate what’s possible.
- Those most directly impacted by injustice shaping the effort, alongside others with proximity to the complex issues.
- A broad and diverse coalition of people united around common purpose and shared values, translating lessons into policy and practice.
1. Finding Promising Leaders
We recruit outstanding and diverse leaders early in their careers and ask them to make a commitment that begins with two years of teaching in a public school, partnering with children and families most impacted by educational inequity.
We seek people who have the values and experiences necessary to expand opportunity and access for children. Among the leadership traits we look for is a deep belief in the potential of every child, a strong record of achievement, and perseverance in the face of challenges.
Since 1990, more than 64,000 extraordinary leaders have joined TFA. They’ve brought energy and imagination into classrooms in rural and urban communities.
Today, half of the corps identify as people of color and half come from low-income backgrounds. More than 1,000 corps members and alumni were themselves taught by a TFA corps member when they were students.
2. Supporting Educators in Classrooms
We develop teachers who go beyond traditional expectations to advance students’ academic and personal growth while helping to strengthen their schools.
In partnership with schools, local universities, other organizations, and businesses in the communities where we work, we provide corps members with initial training, ongoing professional development, and access to an unparalleled resource and support network.
Today, 5,450 corps members reach 367,011 students in 2,450 schools across America. They teach all grade levels and subject areas.
TFA is among the largest and most diverse sources of educators serving schools in low-income communities, and among the largest sources of STEM teachers.
Metro Atlanta '08
Federal Public Defender of the Northern District of Texas
TFA prepared Aisha to be a successful attorney. The experience gave her a deep connection to high-needs communities, taught her how to build relationships, and made her a better advocate.
Los Angeles '07
Founder and Executive Chairman
The realization that millions of students don’t have access to the opportunities she had motivated Beth to teach. What she learned inspired her to become a social entrepreneur who gives thousands of students access to high quality summer programs.
Dallas-Fort Worth '11
As a platform management specialist for Google, alum Charles Lai used the skills he gained as a teacher to educate consumers and colleagues about Google products, tools, and platforms.
3. Developing Systems-Change Leaders
Through teaching, corps members form relationships with children, families, and fellow educators. Their impact with students deepens their conviction and allows them to develop a richer understanding of what students need to learn and thrive.
At the same time, corps members better understand the institutional barriers that limit access to opportunity and the unique assets and challenges in their communities. They grow the skills and mindsets to effect change.
“This has changed my DNA. I’m going to be doing this work for the rest of my life.”
Informed and inspired by their students, TFA alumni remain life-long advocates for educational excellence and equity. Many choose to continue teaching. Many others take on school and district leadership, launch enterprises, or enter other fields that shape the opportunities available to children, like law, healthcare, policy-making.
Today, 63% of TFA alumni work full-time in education and four out of five work in education or in careers serving low-income communities. This includes:
School Systems Leaders
Policy, Advocacy, and Organizing Leaders
4. Fostering Collective Leadership
Alumni and corps members work together and alongside many others to drive progress in communities. They’re colleagues working toward shared goals in schools. They’re co-founders working to bring a big idea to life. They’re on the same school board representing different neighborhoods. They’re staffing congressmen on opposite sides of the aisle. They’re organizing campaigns and working to change laws together.
The TFA network is part of a broad and diverse coalition united around educational excellence and equity.
We strengthen the network by bringing alumni together to learn from one another and debate ideas. We share stories of progress, triumphs, and setbacks. We recognize outstanding educators, social entrepreneurs, civic leaders, and schools. We connect alumni to career opportunities and to each other. We spark conversations on accelerating the pace of change in communities.
Read more about the impact we’re having in classrooms and communities.
A Global Network: Teach For All
Teach For America is part of a global network of independent organizations developing leadership in classrooms and communities to ensure all children can fulfill their potential. Teach For All provides us a platform to connect and learn from network partners around the world.
Learn more about Teach For All.