Teach For America Welcomes its Most Diverse Teaching Corps
— Elisa Villanueva Beard, Co-chief Executive Officer, Teach For America
Teach For America, one of Teach For All's founding partners, announced today that its 25th teaching corps is the most diverse in the program's history.
The organization's commitment to diversity in its teaching corps is rooted in the conviction that effective teachers come from all backgrounds and academic interests, and bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the classroom. Over the course of 25 years of placing teachers in high-need classrooms across the United States, Teach For America has also has found that maximizing diversity supports its effort to attract the nation's outstanding graduates and professionals. Known for recruiting individuals with exceptional professional, academic, and leadership experience, the organization has long recognized the potential of teachers who share students’ backgrounds to serve as critical classroom leaders and role models. (Over 80 percent of students at the more than 3,000 public schools partnering with Teach For America identify as African American or Latino and more than 75 percent are eligible for the federal lunch program.)
Teach For America's approach to continually evolving its teacher recruitment and selection efforts contributed to the increase in diverse talent. Each year, Teach For America selects areas to study further to better understand its most effective teachers. The most recent research focused on the impact of an applicant’s experience in low-income communities and his or her effort and determination to reach goals over time. Findings in these areas led Teach For America to place more emphasis on gathering insight into these two factors during the admissions process, which has contributed to the increased diversity of its incoming teaching cohort.
Among Teach For America's 5,300 new teachers:
- 50 percent identify as people of color, compared with less than 20 percent of all teachers nationwide
- 47 percent received Pell Grants, a reliable indicator of low-income background
- One-third are the first in their families to attend college
- 22 percent identify as African American
- 13 percent identify as Hispanic
- 6 percent identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander
- 1 percent identify as Native
- 33 percent come to the corps from graduate school or with professional experience
- 100 are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces
“Educational inequity is a solvable problem, but it’s clear that we don’t yet have all of the solutions in place to combat the effects of systemic issues like racism and poverty,” said Matt Kramer, co-CEO of Teach For America. “A teaching force with a diverse set of backgrounds, perspectives, and paths into the classroom is more likely to develop innovative ideas and collaborative solutions in partnership with communities. That’s a big part of the Teach For America approach.”
Teach For America admissions remained highly selective in 2014, with an acceptance rate of 15 percent. The incoming teaching corps has an average GPA of 3.4 and includes alumni of more than 850 colleges and universities across the country. Corps members include more than 30 student-body presidents, more than 30 Posse Foundation scholars, 10 Hispanic Scholarship Fund recipients or finalists, and nine Gates Millennium Scholars. Seventeen percent of incoming corps members have backgrounds in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields.
The 5,300 new teachers will join second-year corps members for a total corps of 10,600. These teachers will work with students in high-need classrooms across 50 regions in 35 states and the District of Columbia, including communities in two new locations: Buffalo, New York; and the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina.
Teach For All is committed to building a diverse and inclusive organization that inspires individuals of all backgrounds, and we are proud of the progress Teach For America has continued to m ake in increasing its diversity this year and throughout its 25-year history.