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Teach for America - Mississippi Delta Receives $4.3 Million Grant

June 25, 2013
Walton Family Foundation investment will support more than 1,000 corps member placements over next two years

BENTONVILLE, ARK., June 25, 2013 – For more than 20 years the Walton Family Foundation has invested in improving the quality of K-12 education in the Delta region of Arkansas and Mississippi. Today this commitment continues with the announcement of a $4.3 million grant to Teach for America’s Mississippi Delta region.

TFA-Delta serves school districts in both Arkansas and Mississippi and began its work to improve the quality of education in the impoverished region in 1991 with the placement of nine “corps members,” in local schools. A previous grant from the foundation supported more than 550 corps members in 125 schools in the 2012-2013 school year, reaching more than 45,000 students. This most recent investment will continue that support and increase the number of corps members placed in the region over the next two years, resulting in 582 placements this fall and 610 next year.

Ron Nurnberg, executive director of TFA-Delta, thought immediately of the children whose lives will be impacted by this grant. “Each year we have to turn away qualified, dynamic applicants due to the lack of funding. With this grant we will be able to deepen our relationship with Delta schools by placing hardworking, transformative leaders in many more local classrooms. This is a significant win for local children.”

The Walton Family Foundation began investing in TFA-Delta in 1993. Since then, foundation support for the organization totals nearly $15 million.

“Teach For America is one of our most strategic partners in the effort to ensure all children in the Delta region have access to a quality education. Over the past 20 years, we have witnessed the unprecedented success corps members have had in educating children in the Delta. We believe a highquality education is a critical condition of economic progress and community development,” said Kathy Smith, senior program officer for the foundation.

Schools like KIPP Delta Public Charter School in Helena, Arkansas, credit much of their students’ success to the teachers. According to Scott Shirey, the school’s executive director and former TFA corps member, almost 70 percent of their teachers are either TFA corps members or alumni and seven of nine school administrators are TFA alumni. His students consistently outperform their peers in the local district on benchmark exams. Shirey is grateful for TFA corps members and recognizes they have played a role in helping local students excel.

“TFA corps members attend some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country. The rigorous education and training they have received makes them an exceptional resource for our students,” said Shirey. “As we work to promote post-high school education with our kids, TFA corps members help broaden the horizons of those they teach, which has been a key to our overall success.”

Teach for America places teachers in traditional public school districts as well. Joyce Vaught, superintendent of Lakeside Schools in Lake Village, Arkansas, has had years of experience working with TFA-Delta teachers and has seen first hand the benefits of the organization. Twenty percent of teachers in her district are TFA placements.

“Teachers are in short supply here in the Delta and without TFA, there is no way we would be fully staffed,” Vaught said. “Corps members come here to work hard and change lives.”