Celebrating 20 Years of Teach For America

Teach For America marked a significant milestone this past weekend in Washington, DC. The organization celebrated 20 years of bringing young, passionate graduates into low-income, and underserved schools around the United States. TFA has grown from 500 people in its first corps, to more than 8,200 just in this year alone and is now serving 39 rural and urban regions around the country. It has become one of the largest hirers of college seniors, with over 19,000 applicants annually. So intrigued by TFA’s recruiting, JP Morgan, Amgen, and Wachovia reached out and are now partnering with them to find candidates who can defer employment until after their two year term in the corps.

Founded by Echoing Green Fellow Wendy Kopp in 1991, TFA has become a pioneer in education and in creating a pipeline of leaders passionate about educational equity and excellence.

Here’s what we know:

•    There are over 20,000 Teach For America alumni
•    Nearly two-thirds of the alumni continue to work in the field of education, and half of those in education are teachers.
•    Over five hundred of them are principals and more than forty are school system leaders

A recent Harvard study shows that Teach For America has spurned more education entrepreneurs than any other institution or organization in America. The KIPP Academy, YES Prep Public Schools, New Schools for New Orleans are educational organizations all started by TFA Alums; and Echoing Green Fellows Nick Ehrmann, Chris Myers Asch, and Anthony Jewett are only a few of the social entrepreneurs who have taken their TFA experience to continue to push for monumental change in the field. Even starting its own Social Entrepreneurship Initiative, TFA is providing corps members with an arsenal of tools and connecting them with an incredibly strong network to help corps members launch their own ventures.

TFA has also set off global movement in education and has created a tried and tested innovative model that is replicable and scalable—a true testament of a social enterprise. Teach For All includes a network of organizations in eighteen countries in Europe, Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East with programs in 10-20 countries expected to launch in the next two years alone. By taking the TFA model and localizing it to meet community needs, Teach For All is harnessing the passion and power of young people around the world.

Kicked off with a marching band, the 20th Anniversary Summit brought together nearly 11,000 people, including current and former corps members, supporters, school administrators, and staff. The energy at the Summit was resounding, but there was still a sense of urgency and passion to do better. As Wendy says, “Incremental change is not enough…we need transformational change.”  

Congratulations, Wendy and Teach For America! We are so proud to have been part of your journey.