Teach for America has received four gifts totaling $100 million to create an endowment that supports in perpetuity its efforts to recruit recent college graduates to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools, the Associated Press reports.
The gifts from philanthropists Steve and Sue Mandel and the Eli and Edythe Broad, Laura and John Arnold, and Robertson foundations will create an endowment that initially generates about 2 percent of Teach for America's $200 million budget. Over time, however, TFA founder Wendy Kopp expects the endowment and the revenue it generates to grow. With the additional funds, Kopp hopes to double to 15,000 the number of active TAF corps members and boost the number of communities in which the organization works from thirty-nine to sixty.
While the gifts will help an organization that received ten applications for every available position in the most recent academic year, they are unlikely to be seen as good news by teachers' unions and others who criticize the organization for putting inexperienced college graduates in classroom settings for a couple of years before they move on to something else. For its part, TFA argues that one-third of its alumni continue to teach after their initial two-year stint, and that two out of three corps members remain in the education sector. Studies also show that TAF corps members are at least as effective as those who enter the teaching profession through more traditional channels.
"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," said Kopp. "I think 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."