Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Post 1: Teach For America

I would like to profile or draw attention to the five-year growth strategy of an educational nonprofit organization called Teach For America. Teach For America is the national corps of top college graduates who commit two years to teach in under-resourced schools and become lifelong leaders in the pursuit of educational equity. In its 22-year history, Teach For America has recruited and trained more than 14,000 teachers, reaching more than 2.5 million students. For more information on the organization, visit

I was a 2006 Bay area (CA) region corps member. In 2005, Teach For America embarked on an ambitious five-year plan that called for the Teach For America corps to expand from its current 3,500 members to 7,500 across more than 30 sites by 2010. For more information related to their growth plan, see:

Their growth strategy has been successful throughout the five years, as they have made their “target” growth numbers, of recruiting more students into the teaching corps. This is interesting and impressive, especially during a national/global recession when funding for K-12 schools and education industry in general has diminished. In other words, while the budgets of school districts have remained stagnant for the most part or shrunk, Teach For America has not only been able to maintain its recruitment in these districts, but has actually increased recruitment.

As discussed in Porter’s HBS article, strategic position emerges from three distinct sources. Teach For America provides a teacher supply to public K-12 school districts in 30+ geographical regions throughout the country where an academic achievement gap exists. Following Porter’s three sources, TFA serves the few needs of many customers, that is the specific hiring needs of thousands of school districts. One common misconception is that TFA places teachers in districts where there is a teacher shortage. That is not the case. TFA only places teachers where an academic achievement gap exists.

My question to the class: How comprehensive does Teach For America’s growth strategy appear to be and what (if any) are its shortcomings? Teach For America recruits its teachers to public schools (both traditional and charter). How would the educational landscape in the U.S. have to change to impact this organization negatively?

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