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Teach for America Receives More Funding
posted by: Alix | January 27, 2011, 10:18 PM   

Teach for America, a non-profit organization that recruits recent college graduates and professionals to teach in high-need schools for two years, has just received $100 million to launch its first-ever endowment fund in preparation for making the teaching organization a permanent program.

The program is seen as highly prestigious and effective. These teachers, called corps members, commit to teach for two years in one of 39 urban and rural regions across the country, going above and beyond traditional expectations to help their students to achieve at high levels. The program has been gaining accolades since its inception in 1990. According to a recent study in Tennessee, the most effective new teachers in the state are being trained by Teach for America, not traditional colleges of education, with the exception of math teachers from Vanderbilt University.

The program has been undoubtedly successful over the years and has been in need of permanent funding. Four philanthropists are teaming up to provide this prestigious program with funding to be sustainable long term. The idea of an endowment started with philanthropist Eli Broad, who has pledged $25 million from his Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and encouraged others to commit to this much needed program. The Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Robertson Foundation and philanthropists Steve and Sue Mandel have all committed similar figures and together will work to make Teach for America a permanent fixture.

With this funding the program will be able to double the number of participants and increase the number of communities receiving Teach for America teachers. "Instead of it being viewed as a movement, we have to make it look like an institution," said Teach for America Founder Wendy Kopp.

The funding cannot come at a better time. Last year, the organization received 46,000 applications for just over 4,000 teaching slots. The announcement comes on the heels of President Obama's State of the Union address that called for bright students searching for a career to consider teaching. It's possible that Teach for America could become a large part of the solution to provide the next generation of American teachers.

Kopp reflected on her organization, "When I started on this endeavor 20 years ago, truly the prevailing notion at the time was that kids' socio-economic circumstances would determine their educational outcome. Today we're surrounded by hundreds of examples of whole classrooms and schools that are taking kids from rural and urban areas and putting them on a different trajectory."

Could Teach for America become a solution to teacher shortages?
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