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Teach For America

Enlisting future leaders to close the education gap.

3 million students reached.

When Wendy Kopp proposed the idea in her 1989 senior thesis at Princeton of quickly training outstanding college graduates to teach in high-poverty schools, her advisor told her she was ‘quite evidently deranged’. More than two decades later the comment has become folklore, as the organization she went on to establish, Teach for America, has placed more than 33,000 graduates in schools across 43 urban and rural communities, reaching over 3 million students. 

Fundamental to the Teach for America model is the idea that by recruiting the nation’s most promising future leaders to commit to two years teaching in public schools, these individuals will not only contribute directly to closing the educational achievement gap in the United States, but also gain the insight and commitment necessary to transform them into lifelong advocates for societal change from both within and outside the education field. 

From a fledgling start-up in 1990, the organization’s impact has been impressive. Teach for America now trains more teachers annually than any other institution, its teachers’ effectiveness has increased even as the model has been continuously scaled up, its alumni have emerged as leaders throughout the public, non-profit and private sectors, and it has spawned an international network – ‘Teach for All’ – applying its approach on a global scale.

(Photo © Teach For America)