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Since 2010, Teach For America Rhode Island has worked hand-in-hand with partners throughout our state to create opportunities for children in our most marginalized communities.

Teach For America Rhode Island finds and supports a growing movement of leaders dedicated to expanding educational opportunity across the Ocean State. Alongside the communities they serve, Rhode Island alumni and corps members have played an integral role in supporting the academic gains and educational progress the state has made since 2010.

Making Progress in Rhode Island

Rhode Island is making significant strides toward closing its opportunity gap. Graduation rates in Rhode Island have been climbing steadily, and for the class of 2017, the graduation rate reached an all-time high of 84.1%. Results released by the College Board showed a record number of Rhode Island students taking AP exams, demonstrating that more and more students in the state are on a path to college and career readiness.

While there is still much to be done, Teach For America Rhode Island’s 294 alumni and corps alumni are among the countless educators, activists, parents, and community leaders who have pushed to raise the bar for educational excellence in Rhode Island since 2010. And we remain committed to expanding the number of educators who are working to make educational equity a reality in Rhode Island. 

Addressing Rhode Island Student Needs

Teach For America Rhode Island is placing teachers in vital but difficult-to-staff areas, including Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), as well as recruiting a diverse cohort of leaders in education. 

  • Teach For America Rhode Island is the largest pipeline of teachers of color in the state, with 50% of the 2019 corps identifying as an individual of color. Teach For America Rhode Island is committed to recruiting teachers who reflect the identities of the classrooms we serve.
  • STEM is a vital field of innovation and job creation, and one where individuals from low-income communities are vastly underrepresented. 57% of Rhode Island’s 2019-2020 corps serve as secondary STEM teachers. These educators are ensuring that Rhode Island’s high school students are being exposed to a STEM curriculum that prepares them for the demands of the 21st-century workforce.

Fostering Educational Excellence in Rhode Island Schools

Rhode Island’s progress in education wouldn’t have been possible without public schools that challenge the status quo:

  • Blackstone Valley Prep (BVP) Academy

    Blackstone Valley Prep (BVP) was founded in 2009 with the goal of being a model of rigorous college and career preparatory public education in Rhode Island. Since then, the Rhode Island Department of Education has recognized BVP for the strong academic performance of its students, naming BVP High School, Elementary School 2, and Middle School 1 as “Commended” in 2016. Today, BVP scholars score 108 points above the state average on the SAT. Over 14 Teach For America corps members and alumni work at BVP.

    School Leader: Jeremy Chiappetta (New York ‘95)

  • Achievement First Iluminar Mayoral Academy

    Achievement First Iluminar Mayoral Academy was founded in 1998 to prove that amazing things happen for students when potential meets opportunity. Achievement First Iluminar Mayoral Academy in Rhode Island is among the top performing elementary schools in the state, scoring number one in both english language arts and math. The school was founded by alumni Kevin Lohela, who continues to serve as the principal. 11 Teach For America corps members and alumni currently work at Achievement First Iluminar. 

    School Leader: Kevin Lohela (New York City ‘06)

Meet Our Corps Members

Teach For America Rhode Island is dedicated to finding and training teachers who are committed to expanding educational opportunity for all children in the Ocean State. Our corps members represent dozens of college majors, and they possess the qualities of leadership and experience that contribute to success in the classroom. Our 2019-2020 school year Rhode Island corps are:

57%

Secondary STEM teachers

53%

Reflect the racial or economic backgrounds of their students

36%

Pell grant recipients

27%

First in family to attend college

Rhode Island's Alumni Leaders

Teach For America Rhode Island’s 257 alumni are leading both inside and outside the classroom, as school systems leaders, elected officials, social entrepreneurs, and more, all driven to create opportunity for all children in the city.

84%

work in roles impacting low-income communities

19%

are school leaders and school systems leaders

17%

are education nonprofit leaders

6%

are governmental politics, policy, and advocacy leaders

Angélica Infante-Green

Angélica Infante-Green

New York '94

Commissioner of Education

Angélica Infante-Green began her career as a bilingual classroom teacher in the South Bronx where she was a Teach For America corps member before moving to Community School District 6 in the heart of Washington Heights in 1995. Since leaving the classroom, Infante-Green has served in a variety of roles focused on improving instruction for all students, and particularly for students learning English. She served as the Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Instructional Support P-12, before transitioning to her current role as Rhode Island’s Commissioner of Education. Infante-Green is the first Latina and the first woman of color to lead the Rhode Island Department of Education.

Teach For America alum Juia Rafal-Baer

Julia Rafal-Baer

New York '04

Chief Operating Officer

Chiefs for Change

Julia Rafal-Baer, Ph.D joined Teach For America in 2004, where she began her career as a special education teacher in the Bronx. Julia went on to become Assistant Commissioner of the New York State Education Department where she was responsible for the strategy, management, and implementation of teacher and leader initiatives under the state’s Race to the Top grant, Teacher Incentive Fund grant, and other state-wide initiatives. Today, Julia lives in Rhode Island and serves as Chief Operating Officer of Chiefs for Change, a nonprofit network of bipartisan state and city education leaders.

Teach For America alum Stephanie Downey-Toledo

Stephanie Downey-Toledo

Los Angeles '03

Interim, Superintendent

Central Falls School District

Stephanie Downey Toledo joined Teach For America in 2003, where she taught in Los Angeles. During her time in the corps, Stephanie was selected as a Sue Lehman Regional Finalist. Before coming to Rhode Island, Stephanie served as the Deputy Chief Operating Officer for the Division of Students with Disabilities & English Language Leaders at the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE). Stephanie currently serves as the Interim Superintendent of Central Falls School District in Rhode Island.

See all profiles Right Arrow

Rhode Island Annual Report

Read our annual report to learn more about Teach For America Rhode Island’s impact in 2019.

Teach For America Rhode Island in the News: 

Teach For America Rhode Island’s impact has been recognized in a number of media publications, including:

Back to school: Teacher shortages
WPRI
August 14, 2019

Raimondo wants Teach For America ‘to get more involved’ in Providence
Providence Journal
September 18, 2019

“It Takes Every Sector of the Community” - Teach for America on Education Awareness Week in RI
Go Local Prov
April 11, 2019

It’s OK, You Can Teach For America
Education Post
August 21, 2019