Teach for America Brings Record Number of African Americans to High-Need Classrooms in 2012

Teach For America has announced that a record 5,800 of the organization’s new teachers will enter the nation’s highest-need schools this fall. Over 700 of these teachers identify as African American, which is more than in any other entering corps in Teach For America’s 23-year history. With these 5,800 teachers, a total of 10,000 first- and second-year Teach For America corps members will collectively reach more than 750,000 students—50 percent of whom are African American—across 46 regions in 36 states and the District of Columbia.

Teach For America’s incoming corps represents a wide variety of personal and academic backgrounds and professional experiences. Thirty-eight percent identify as people of color, including the more than 700, or 13 percent, who are African American and 10 percent who are Latino. Thirty-five percent received Pell Grants, and 23 percent are the first in their families to earn a college degree. Ninety-eight served as student-body presidents at their alma mater.

“If we’re going to reach the day when every child receives an outstanding education, we need a movement of leaders who are diverse in every respect and committed to changing things for kids,” said Heather Harding, Teach For America’s senior vice president of community and public partnerships. “While we’re proud that our current teacher corps is racially and economically diverse, we still have a ways to go. Our goal is to keep steadily increasing the diversity of backgrounds and experiences among our teaching corps.”

Teach For America’s admissions standards remained high this year; together, the 10,000-member corps has an average GPA of 3.55 and includes alumni of more than 600 colleges and universities across the country. At 55 schools—including Howard University, Spelman College, Xavier University of Louisiana, Yale University, George Washington University, and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University—Teach For America is the top employer of graduating seniors.

More than 48,000 people applied to Teach For America this year, including 1 in 4 seniors at Spelman, 11 percent of the graduating class at Clark Atlanta University, 10 percent at Hampton University and at Morehouse College, 8 percent at Howard, 6 percent at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and 4 percent at the University of Florida. At the Ivy League schools, 1 in 7 African American seniors applied.

As part of its commitment to diversity and inclusiveness, Teach For America partners with organizations such as the National Urban League, the United Negro College Fund, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, the National Black MBA Association, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Ron Brown Scholar Program, and the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

“As a national partner of Teach For America, we’re proud that so many graduates of UNCF-member historically black colleges and universities have joined Teach For America this year,” said UNCF President and CEO Michael Lomax, Ph.D., a member of Teach For America’s Board of Directors. “HBCUs, their students, and their alumni have a key role to play in improving the education our schools give to low-income African Americans and other children of color, and it is critical that we create pathways for engagement. It’s inspiring to know that Teach For America’s talented and diverse group of teachers will be channeling their energy into expanding educational opportunities in our communities of color.”

A rigorous and growing body of independent research demonstrates that Teach For America teachers are well-prepared and effective in the classroom. In addition to its 10,000-strong teaching corps, Teach For America’s community of nearly 28,000 alumni works across a range of sectors to effect change. Two-thirds of them have made education their career—one-third as classroom teachers and one-third in other roles including principals and superintendents. A 2011 study by Harvard professor Monica Higgins and the American Enterprise Institute’s Rick Hess found that Teach For America is creating more founders and leaders of education organizations than any other organization or program.

Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding individuals of all academic disciplines to commit two years to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the movement to end educational inequity. This fall, more than 10,000 corps members will be teaching in 46 urban and rural regions across the country, while nearly 28,000 alumni are working across sectors to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education. For more information, visit http://www.teachforamerica.org/.

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