Four foundations have provided Teach for America with $100 million in endowments to coincide with the group’s 20-year anniversary celebration this week. The fund will be used to create a reliable, long-term stream of revenue to fund Teach For America’s ongoing efforts to recruit, train, and develop transformational teachers for pre-K-12 education.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation was the first philanthropic organization to commit to the endowment fund with a pledge of $25 million and called upon other funders to match this figure. Three additional donors stepped up to provide $25 million each — the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Robertson Foundation, and Steve and Sue Mandel.
Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits top recent college graduates and young professionals to work in high-need classrooms across America and become advocates for education reform. Over the past 20 years, Teach For America has trained more than 28,000 recent college grads to work in rural and urban schools. Two-thirds of the program’s alumni continue to work full-time in education, half of them as classroom teachers and more than 550 as school principals or superintendents. Others hold influential positions in fields like policy, journalism, and government.
The summit will include dozens of entrepreneurial leaders among Teach For America’s alumni— including former District of Columbia Public Schools chancellor Michelle Rhee and KIPP co-founders Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin. They will be joined by education leaders such as American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, Former New York City Department of Education chancellor Joel Klein, author Malcolm Gladwell, and UNCF president Michael Lomax.
Research has shown that Teach For America’s corps members are leading their students to significant academic achievement in some of America’s highest-need classrooms. A 2008-09 study by the Urban Institute found that Teach For America teachers have a positive effect on student achievement relative to other teachers, including experienced teachers, traditionally prepared teachers, and those fully certified in their field.
Teach For America recently launched a five-year plan to double in size by 2015, establishing a teacher corps of 15,000 diverse leaders in 60 communities across the country and an alumni force of 44,000 leaders for educational equity.