Founder: Wendy Kopp
When: 1990 in New York City
Bright Idea: Connect the worst American schools with the brightest young college graduates.
Impact: Much as previous generations of Peace Corps volunteers committed two years to assisting developing countries, top graduates now spend two years teaching at the U.S. schools where their talents are most needed. By 2010, TFA plans to manage 8,000 corps members, who will make up 10% to 30% of the new teachers in the 33 communities they serve.
The Next Wave: TFA alumni have gone on to start several programs focusing on educational inequity and other issues.
The New Teacher Project: Increases teacher quality in struggling schools by helping districts recruit and prepare more than 23,000 teachers nationwide. One program, in New York City, helps mid-career professionals make the transition into teaching.
Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP): Started in inner-city Houston in 1994, it expanded nationally with the help of Gap founders Doris and Donald Fisher. KIPP supports a network of 57 free college-prep public schools in under-resourced areas. The 14,000 KIPP kids sign commitment forms pledging long hours and quality work. Sixty percent of KIPP school leaders and 33% of KIPP teachers are TFA alums.
YES Schools: A network of charter schools in Houston that serves low-income, minority students, YES sets a high bar for graduation: students must be accepted to a four-year college to get their diplomas.
by Jeremy Caplan and Kristina Dell