Teach For America has committed to recruit an additional 2,400 Latino undergraduates and professionals to teach in low-income public schools nationwide over the next three years as part of the White House Initiative on
Educational Excellence for Hispanics’ 25th anniversary call to action. At least 30 percent of those teachers will have a background in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. President Obama announced Thursday that Teach For America’s commitment is among 150 commitments launching a collective investment of nearly $340 million to build on and accelerate federal, state, and local investments in high-quality education for the nation’s Latino community. Today, approximately 25 percent of students in the United States identify as Latino, compared to only 8 percent of teachers. Teach For America is committed to continuing to increase diversity within the teaching profession. The national nonprofit recruits and trains new teachers to work in low-income public schools and to make a lifetime commitment to expanding educational opportunities for children. Its current teaching corps is one of the most diverse in the organization’s 25-year history: 15 percent of this year’s incoming teachers—some 600 educators—are Latino, roughly half are people of color, and about 35 percent are the first in their families to graduate from college. “We’ve learned that great teachers come from all backgrounds, and that teachers who share the background of their students can have a profound additional impact,” said Elisa Villanueva Beard, CEO of Teach For America. “We are honored to work toward lasting partnerships with Latino national and community organizations to effectively recruit more Latino leaders into education and to better address the needs of a growing Latino student population.“ According to the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families, as many as two-thirds of Hispanic children live in low-income households, which significantly impacts their access to a quality education. In America today, 9-year-olds in low-income communities are already three grade-levels behind their peers in more affluent communities; approximately half of them will not graduate from high school; and those who do graduate will do math, on average, at an eighth-grade level—if things remain the same. “Through our collaboration with the White House Initiative and many other Latino organizations nationwide, we are able to recruit young Hispanic leaders like Mario and Alice. We are committed to building a strong group of lifelong Latino leaders in education and within our communities to drive lasting change,” said Patricia Leon-Guerrero, senior managing director of Teach For America’s Latino Community Initiatives.