Four Fund Teach for America $100 Million Endowment

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Teach for America (TFA), the national corps of recent college graduate K-12 teachers placed in needy areas, will set up a $100 million endowment, thanks to donations from four philanthropic groups. The money will be used to expand the program by accepting more teachers and serving more cities.

The $100 million is meant to ensure TFA’s long-term sustainability.  Interest from the endowment will account for about 2 percent of its $200 million operating budget this year, according to national TFA spokesperson Carrie James.

Teach for America accepted only 12 percent of its applicant pool last year. It hopes to nearly double the number of active corps members to 15,000 teachers and increase the number of participating urban and rural communities from 39 to 60 by the year 2015.

Initially, TFA plans to accept 5,300 new teachers for the next corps class, up from last year’s class of 4,500 first-year members.  TFA corps members pledge to teach for at least two years.  The total number of teachers for this year is 8,200. 

The first push for the new endowment came from the Eli and Edyth Broad Foundation, of Los Angeles, which spends much of its $2.1 billion in assets on education, committed an initial $25 million to set up the endowment and urged other foundations to follow suit.

Three other groups agreed to donate $25 million each: the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, based in Houston; the Robertson Foundation, of New York, and New York philanthropists Steve and Sue Mandel. All four philanthropic groups had previously donated millions to Teach for America. 

“Teach for America is grateful to the four funders who have given so generously to establish a permanent endowment fund,” TFA founder and CEO Wendy Kopp said in a statement. “This milestone comes at a critical moment as we reflect on the progress we have made over the last 20 years while recommitting ourselves to building the leadership force for educational excellence and equity.”

The $100 million endowment supplements a $50 million Investing in Innovation (i3) grant the U.S. Department of Education awarded TFA last summer for the purpose of growing the program to scale.