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Why Young Professionals Donate to Teach For America

Teach For America Chicago-Northwest Indiana’s Auxiliary Board is a group of young professionals who are fired up about educational equity. Learn how new board chair Evan Rodrigues is charting their course forward.

A male alumnus stands in front of a Teach For America sign.

August 13, 2019

In this day and age, there are many pressing causes to which young professionals can donate their time and resources. And with issues like immigration reform, climate change, and reproductive rights dominating headlines, education often feels deprioritized. Teach For America Chicago-Northwest Indiana’s Auxiliary Board is working to make sure it's treated with the same urgency. “Anyone who thinks that education is not a core, critical issue might just be taking it for granted,” says Evan Rodrigues, the Auxiliary Board’s chair. “Even the way that we see the world and talk about solving other issues is built by our education.”

The Auxiliary Board is a group of young professionals dedicated to supporting Teach For America’s efforts to eliminate educational inequity in our region. They do this through fundraising, outreach, and direct engagement with corps members and alumni in schools and classrooms. Comprised of more than 20 individuals, the board is made up of rising leaders in education, finance, law, medicine and business. Half are Teach For America alumni.

Last year, the board raised more than $50,000 for the Corps Member Financial Aid Fund, which helps make joining Teach For America accessible to leaders from all backgrounds. But just as importantly, they educated their networks about the challenges our students are facing, and the incredible progress we’re seeing in our classrooms.

“Anyone who thinks that education is not a core, critical issue might just be taking it for granted.”

Evan Rodrigues

Chair of Teach For America Chicago-Northwest Indiana’s Auxiliary Board

Evan has been charged with leading this group as the new board chair. A member of the board for over four years, Evan began his time at Teach For America as a Chicago-Northwest Indiana corps member, teaching math in Bronzeville after deferring an offer from Deloitte, where he currently works as a consultant. “My time in the corps taught me another perspective,” he shares. “It helped me realize that who I am today is not because of me, it’s because of the opportunities I was given. For us to be a more equitable society, everyone has to have access to those same opportunities.”

Now he sees the Auxiliary Board as a way to stay connected to Teach For America, and to work towards educational equity in a different way. “We help people understand what the reality of education is,” he says. “I don’t think people pay attention to the issues of education if they don’t have to, and that may limit us from being able to solve many problems in our city. It’s important that we understand what’s important to our city, and not just our neighborhood.”

Looking ahead, Evan’s excited to help the Auxiliary Board deepen their impact. He believes board should be a two-way street. Members should not just be donating their time and resources, they should also get the chance to grow as leaders and learn more about the challenges facing educators. To accomplish this, he wants members to find unique ways to leverage their own gifts in this work. “There are people of all different backgrounds on the Auxiliary Board,” he says. “Their experiences don’t just shape the vision of Teach For America, they expand it.”

Interested in joining the Auxiliary Board? Email greg.lowe@teachforamerica.org to learn more.