Press Release

Walton Family Foundation to Invest $50 Million in Teach For America

Grant to Help Attract and Develop About 4,000 Teachers

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Nov. 4, 2015 – The Walton Family Foundation today announced that it is investing $50 million over three years in Teach For America (TFA), which this year is turning 25 years old. This investment builds on the foundation’s 22 years of support for TFA, which started with a grant in 1993 that supported the organization’s work in the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta region. The new three-year grant will support teacher recruitment efforts such as partnership building and public outreach, as well as the training and professional development of approximately 4,000 new teachers in communities across the country. 

“The Walton Family Foundation has been supporting TFA for more than 20 years. During that time, TFA has helped to recruit and train more than 50,000 teachers while attracting some of our nation’s most innovative school leaders and policy thinkers,” said Marc Sternberg, the director of K-12 giving at the Walton Family Foundation. “We are confident that TFA will continue to attract the kind of talent America’s classrooms need to prepare our country’s students for a lifetime of opportunity.”

Projected Teach For America Corps Members to be Supported By Grant (2015-2018)

 Atlanta, GA  70 
 Arkansas and Mississippi Delta Region  800 
 Bay Area, CA  175
 Camden, NJ  75
 Colorado  280
 Houston, TX  480
 Indianapolis, IN  350
 Los Angeles, CA  360
 Massachusetts  115
 Memphis, TN  545
 New Orleans, LA  400
 San Antonio, TX  270
 Washington, DC  180

“The Walton Family Foundation’s support will help Teach For America continue to provide a force of diverse and talented teachers to public schools with the highest need,” said TFA CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard. “We recruit extraordinary leaders from all backgrounds to join the fight for educational equity and excellence, and this grant will help us continue that important work.”

The foundation’s grant to TFA will support the recruitment, training and professional development of about 4,000 teachers in several of Teach For America’s 52 regions, including Atlanta, GA; the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta Region; the Bay Area, CA; Camden, NJ; Colorado; Houston, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Los Angeles, CA; Massachusetts; Memphis, TN; New Orleans, LA; San Antonio, TX; and Washington, D.C. The Walton Family Foundation targets its investments in cities and regions where it can have the greatest impact. In Teach For America’s 52 regions, the organization partners with schools to identify local needs for teaching talent and providing candidates for open positions. TFA works with schools to ensure that corps members have a consistently strong, positive impact on students and communities. The grant will also support TFA’s national efforts to recruit and develop strong educators.

This school year, there are 8,600 members of the TFA corps. These teachers graduated from nearly 830 colleges and universities. Nearly half of the teaching corps identify as people of color, compared with 20% of teachers nationwide. One of these teachers is Matthew Kelley, who is a high school chemistry teacher in Atlanta, in the neighborhood where he grew up. He said his students see themselves in him: “It is really important for me to be the person they could see that they could become,” he said. [Read more about Kelley]

Forty-seven percent of TFA corps members come from low-income families, and one in three of the new teachers are the first in their families to graduate from college. Roshun Austin, a TFA alumna, grew up in poverty in Memphis. Her father didn’t graduate from high school. Her mother eventually went back to community college when she had to support the family of seven. Austin joined the TFA corps because education had opened doors for her, and, she said, “I liked the idea that one day all children would have equal access to a quality education.” [Read more about Austin]

There are currently more than 42,000 TFA alumni. Two-thirds of them are working in education. This includes 11,200 classroom teachers, 930 principals, 247 school system leaders, 90 elected officials, and 120 union leaders. Ronicka Briscoe grew up in New Orleans, went to college there, and joined TFA the year after Hurricane Katrina to try to help her city recover from the storm. She taught for four years, then served as a curriculum coordinator and instructional coach, before becoming an assistant principal. This fall, she became a principal for the first time at Dwight D. Eisenhower Academy of Global Studies, about two miles from where she attended elementary school in New Orleans. 

“Teach For America allowed me to put a purpose with my passion, and allowed me to be a part of changing the city that I love,” she said. “I want to really help children in the city be successful and reach their full potential.” [Read more about Briscoe]


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About The Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is dedicated to changing the trajectory of young people’s lives and helping end the poverty that plagues so many of our nation’s communities by expanding K-12 education opportunities for all students. The foundation has invested more than $1 billion to date to improve all types of schools — traditional district, public charter and private — and to support innovative organizations that share a common goal: to give all families the ability to choose the best school for their child, regardless of their ZIP code. 

About Teach For America
Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity. Today, 8,800 corps members are teaching in 52 urban and rural regions across the country while more than 42,000 alumni are working across sectors to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.