Endowment for the Smarts: Teach For America Lands $100 Million

Jan 27, 2011
Exec. Prod. of Franchises & Series. He previously reported for HuffPost, L.A. Daily Journal, and Biloxi Sun-Herald.
Teach For America recruit Jamila Best as she starts her career in a D.C. charter school in August 2010. (Photo: Getty Images)

In a major step toward becoming an American educational fixture, Teach For America announced Thursday that it is receiving $100 million to endow its teacher-training organization.

The money is being given by a mix of philanthropic backers, including Eli and Edythe Broad, Laura and John Arnold, Steve and Sue Mandel, and the Robertson Foundation.

Teach For America's founder, Wendy Kopp—who conceived of the organization while writing an undergraduate thesis—told the AP:

"A few years ago we embraced the priority of making Teach For America an enduring American institution that can thrive as long as the problem we're working to address persists. It's only appropriate in our country—which aspires to be a place of equal opportunity—that we have an institution which is about our future leaders making good on that promise."

Launched in 1990, Teach For America puts recent college graduates with a desire to teach into some of the toughest classrooms in the nation, from inner city Boston to rural Native American reservations in New Mexico. 

The organization's teachers commit to two years in the classroom, with salaries ranging from $30,000 to $51,000, depending on the region where they're teaching.

Teachers unions have faulted the organization for putting inexperienced young people into needy classrooms. Critics contend that the fledgling educators often do little more than boost their resumes to impress future employers in more lucrative fields.

Teach For America says that one-third of its recruits remain in the teaching profession after their two-year tour with the organization ends.

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