Teach for America, which is already the number one employer of graduating Yalies, will seek to recruit even more Elis after receiving a $100 million gift.
Four donors — the Broad Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Robertson Foundation and philanthropists Steve and Sue Mandel — each pledged $25 million to the non-profit Teach for America, which sends recent college graduates into America’s lowest-performing public schools. On Jan. 27. Emily Blatter, a TFA recruiter at Yale, said the organization will use its new endowment to expand recruitment, but not to start new programs or change the infrastructure of existing branches.
“Endowment funds will go directly toward improving our national programs for corps recruitment and training,” she said in an e-mail to the News. “We’re excited that the endowment will bolster recruitment of top candidates like the many Yalies that have joined Teach For America in years past.”
The donation — which represents only two percent of TFA’s total budget — will not affect any of the program’s operational costs, Blatter said.
She added that as Teach for America aims to change public schools in America, it recruits heavily from top colleges and universities to get the best graduates on board.
Erika Lepping, communications director at the Broad Foundation, said the donation was intended to help TFA expand and improve its hiring efforts.
“This permanent funding stream will make the organization a permanent American institution that will continue, for generations to come, to sustainably recruit, train and support our best and brightest college graduates as they step forward to make a difference for young people who need it most,” she said.
She added that Yalies are prime candidates for the program because of the University’s emphasis on leadership training and imparting a diverse skill set, which Lepping called critical to solving current problems in education facing the nation today.
But several Yale alumni who are or have been part of the TFA Corps said they do not receive adequate support from their employer, and think some of the new funds should be devoted improving their experiences. The program should focus on developing its curriculum and providing resources for teachers as well as recruiting new members, they said.
Corps members — some of whom do not have prior teaching experience — go through a five-week training program before entering the classroom for a two-year commitment. Throughout their time with TFA, teachers have a “mentor” within the program to offer advice.
Jillian Roland ’09, who works in the D.C. area, and Allison Cantway ’10, who works in the Mississippi Delta, both said they think the organization’s professional development offerings are not enough.
“I have one mentor and he is in charge of like 30 teachers,” Roland said. “It would be awesome if we could lower that ratio.”
Cullen Macbeth ’09, a TFA teacher in the Mississippi Delta and a former Managing Editor of the News, said the organization does not provide comprehensive curricula for teachers, and money could be invested in this area. Smaller costs, such as a lack of printers and copy machines in schools, could also be addressed, he said.
“All that said, though, recruitment is always a good place to put money,” he said.
Ross Kennedy-Shaffer ’08, currently a teacher at Hunter College High School in Manhattan, spent his two TFA years in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In his experience, funding never seemed to be limiting factor for the program, he said. He added that the problems he experienced, such as student attitudes and school organization, could not have necessarily been fixed with money.
Forty-six Yalies from the Class of 2010 went on to join TFA.