Teach For America
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What They Do
Recruit, train and support high-achieving recent college graduates and mid-career professionala to teach for two years in low-income and rural communities throughout the United States.
Headquarters: New York, New York
Annual Revenues: $318 Million.
What Makes Teach For America, Inc. Great
Employees at Teach For America wake up each day inspired to make the world a better place.
The mission-driven organization aims to make a quality education available to all of America's kids, regardless of socio-economic background. Teach For America's staff - who provide support to more than 10,000 corps members doing the teaching in the field - are overwhelmingly proud to say they work for the growing nonprofit and are proud of the organization's contributions to their communities.
It isn’t easy work. Teach For America's staff supports corps members who are often placed in classrooms where kids are performing significantly behind their grade level. But nearly everyone (94 percent) says what they are doing is more than just a job.
"We're not just going to work, we're building momentum in a movement to end educational inequity," asserts one employee.
Wendy Kopp proposed the idea for Teach For America in her Princeton University undergraduate thesis in 1989. The following year, a charter corps of 500 recent college graduates joined Teach For America, fueling the movement to eliminate educational inequity by teaching at U.S. schools in low-income urban and rural communities. Since then, nearly 33,000 recent college graduates and working professionals have reached more than 3 million children nationwide during their two-year teaching commitments. The nonprofit organization is headquartered in New York and over the past several years, has grown from about 391 staff members at the end of fiscal year 2005 to 1,903 staff members at the beginning of fiscal year 2013, a remarkable 380 percent growth, and Teach For America expects to have more than 2,100 employees by fiscal year 2014.
Employees say that sharing a common passion with their coworkers creates great camaraderie among staff, and nine out of 10 say their colleagues are consistently cooperative and believe that everyone is in it together. "My colleagues are incredibly driven, passionate, and committed to our work. Simultaneously, they're fun, caring, and are constantly pushing one another to be the best professional versions of themselves," describes one staff member.
Another employee adds, "We really do care about each other both professionally and personally. We take care of one another like a family which makes it awesome!”
The organization’s feel-good atmosphere is bolstered by benefits like flexible scheduling, health coverage paid at 85 percent (75 percent coverage for dependents), and a 401(k) matched at 100 percent (up to 5 percent of salary). With regards to compensation, the company says that at the end of each fiscal year, the Human Assets team reviews and recalibrates (if needed) staff members' salaries based on input from managers and team leaders on staff members' upcoming responsibilities, skill development, and past performance. Roughly two-thirds of Teach for America's staff confirm that they are paid fairly and receive a fair share of the organization's profits, but some would like to see improvements in this area: "Although we are a non-profit I believe that we are big enough that we can rival salaries in the private sector," advocates one employee.
Teach For America’s stated approach is to hire a diverse group of people who exhibit strong leadership, and then give them plenty of room to thrive. Nearly everyone (97 percent) says they are entrusted with a lot of responsibility, and the majority (85 percent) say that managers give them the independence to deliver on that responsibility without micromanaging them. "I feel the ability to be entrepreneurial here more than I have at any other place I have worked. Teach For America encourages us to do things that are good for the organization as a whole, regardless of our role."
It isn’t a regimented organization, with rigid paths to follow. Employees are encouraged to take on fresh challenges. One employee illustrates this experience, saying, I have been able to assess a need in the company, create a new role, and management has been tremendous in accepting this new role that I wrote for myself because they felt it fit a great need."
Although a minority of employees suggest that who you know can impact what opportunities become available to you, nearly 90 percent say that Teach for America is a politics-free environment and most (82 percent) also say that the company consistently offers its staff the training and development they need in order to develop professionally. These offerings include conferences, personal coaching programs, online self-paced training, and a variety of programs aimed towards fostering leadership skills.
While new hires come from a range of professional backgrounds and experience levels, some staff members are former corps members. Following their two-year teaching assignment, some corps members are hired to a staff position in one of Teach For America's 11 national teams, including Marketing, Information Technology and Admissions - or are hired to work at one of Teach For America's 50 regional offices throughout the country.
Regardless of where they are, employees say Teach For America offers them an opportunity to make a real long-term difference in the lives of American children. It is challenging and demanding work, but its dedicated staff say that being able to make this impact and be part of Teach For America's highly professional team is richly rewarding.
"Due to the mission-driven nature of our work, I find working at Teach For America to be emotionally and spiritually rejuvenating," one employee says. "Moreover, the teams that I get to work with make me love coming in each day."
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