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Our Approach

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.
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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.
Four circles, each containing text about the four pieces of our approach -- 1) find promising leaders 2) support educators in classrooms 3) develop systems-change leaders 4) foster collective leadership

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 65,000 extraordinary leaders have joined TFA. They’ve brought energy and imagination into classrooms in rural and urban communities.

Today, 56% corps identify as people of color and 59% 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. 

Inspired to Teach by Their TFA Teachers

A growing number of Teach For America corps members were themselves, years earlier, the students of TFA corps members. Two Phoenix corps members share how their experiences being taught by corps members impacted their choice to join the teaching profession with Teach For America.

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, 3,388 corps members reach nearly 250,000 students in more than 3,000 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.

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.”

Drew Madson

World History Teacher

South Dakota Corps Member 2010

Lifelong Impact

Lifelong Impact

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, 60% of TFA alumni work full-time in education. Among our alumni, there are: 

  • 1,337 school leaders
  • 996 school systems leaders
  • 1,252 policy, advocacy and organizing leaders
  • 224 social entrepreneurs

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.