Teach For America

Teach For America

The circumstances of a child’s birth often play an important role in the opportunities they’ll have throughout life. Teach For America’s vision is for all children to have an opportunity to attain an excellent education, no matter their environment. They do that by finding, developing and supporting a diverse network of leaders who expand opportunities for children in classrooms, schools and every sector and field that shapes the broader systems in which schools operate.


Teach For America - Memphis began in 2006 with 50 corps members – a group of teachers driven to create more positive academic opportunities for students in the city. Today, the organization has more than 500 alumni who have worked for years to make a difference in their students’ lives, in addition to the nearly 300 first- and second-year teachers currently serving in the program.


Diversity is crucial for successful change and is one of Teach For America’s greatest strengths. Of Teach For America – Memphis’ group of nearly 300 first- and second- year teachers, over 40 percent identify as a person of color and another 40 percent identify as coming from a low-income background. Teach For America is among the largest providers of teachers in low-income communities, of African-American and Latino teachers, and of STEM teachers in the country.


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Teach For America asks its leaders to make a commitment that begins with two years’ teaching in a public school, partnering with children and families most acutely impacted by educational inequity. Many teachers continue to work on mastering their craft after their commitment; half of Teach For America – Memphis’ alumni remain in the classroom. Some have received national prizes and fellowships like the Sontag Prize and the Emerging Human Capital Leaders Initiative Fellowship. Other alumni move on to additional roles in schools to broaden their impact; currently, 21 Teach For America alumni lead schools and five lead school systems across Memphis. There are alumni who have created libraries for schools where none existed and alumni who lead literacy and special education efforts for schools and networks.


Teach For America alumni also move on to careers in other sectors to work to bring about positive change for students and families. They’ve founded student-centered organizations like The College Initiative, Let’s Innovate Through Education and Memphis Inner-City Rugby, all of which have proven results in increasing students’ academic outcomes, as well as ensuring students are able to get into – and stay in – college. They’ve founded initiatives like Incarcerated Youth Speaking Out for Change, which works with students in the criminal justice system to recommend changes that could have prevented their current realities. They work in organizations like CodeCrew that help youth gain access to coding skills for the 21st century. And they lead organizations like JUICE Orange Mound, which taps into the power of the Orange Mound neighborhood to strengthen it from within.


So, while the work to end educational inequity is challenging, Teach For America’s corps members and alumni are dedicated to making a difference every day, inside and outside the classrooms and school buildings. They are a diverse set of leaders working to ensure children can succeed despite the obstacles they often face, particularly those that exist in low-income communities; and there are many ways we can assist in their efforts. To learn more about Teach For America – Memphis and how you can help or become a difference maker with the organization, visit memphis.teachforamerica.org.


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