Teach for America: Winner's Statement
Teach for America
New York, New York
President: Wendy Kopp
What it does: Teach for America runs a service corps of recent college graduates who are trained and placed for two years as teachers in low-income urban and rural public schools. Smart, dedicated teachers, it believes, will go beyond traditional expectations. But the real payoff is in the long term: TFA graduates, it hopes, will become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity in the United States.
Results: TFA has 3,500 corps members teaching in more than 1,000 schools; a 2004 study found that students of corps members exceeded expectations in both math and reading.
Aspiration and growth: A
At Teach for America, we believe that the gap in educational outcomes that persists along socio-economic and racial lines is our nation's greatest domestic challenge, and that it must be our generation's civil rights movement. Educational disparities are greater in our country than in almost any other industrialized nation. In America today, 9-year-olds in urban and rural areas are already three grade levels behind kids in wealthier suburbs, only about half of high school students in urban areas graduate, and those who do graduate often read below basic levels.
Teach for America is building the movement to fight this injustice by enlisting our nation's most promising future leaders in the effort. We build a highly selective service corps of outstanding recent college graduates of all academic majors and career paths who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in pursuit of educational excellence and equity.
In the short-run, our corps members have a significant impact in the lives of our nation's most disadvantaged students. At the same time, through their teaching experience, corps members gain insight and conviction that influences their career trajectories and civic consciousness, making them a powerful leadership force working from within education and from outside of it to affect the fundamental, systemic changes necessary to ensure educational opportunity for all.
Last year, more than 17,000 outstanding recent college graduates applied to Teach for America, including 12% of Yale and Spelman seniors and 8% of Harvard's and Yale's senior classes. Of this pool, 2,100 joined Teach for America, making it one of the country's top 10 employers of top recent college graduates.
Today, 3,500 corps members reach more than 250,000 students each day. An independent study found that the students corps members teach learn more than is typically expected in a year. At the same time, our more than 10,000 alumni--still in their twenties and thirties--are already assuming significant leadership roles in the broader reform efforts. They are running some of the most acclaimed schools in urban and rural areas, advising governors and senators on education policy, marshaling the resources of business and law firms toward expanding educational opportunity, and winning the highest acclaims teachers can win. In fact, the 2005 National Teacher of the Year is an alumnus of Teach for America.
In October of this year, Teach for America launched an ambitious five-year plan to grow our impact. By becoming the nation's top employer of top recent college graduates, we will provide hundreds of thousands more disadvantaged students with teachers who will make a real difference in their lives. At the same time, we will influence the quality of future civic and educational leadership and, we believe, the consciousness of our country.
The above Winner's Statement was provided by the profiled organization.