Teach for America California Capital Valley (TFA) is working to confront educational inequity by building a diverse network of leaders in teaching and related fields. “Our focus is students and their success, and we pursue that by developing the leaders needed in our classrooms, school districts and communities,” says Scott Richards, executive director.
This 2022-23 school year, the organization will celebrate 10 years of leadership development through their corps program. Corps members come to TFA as recent college graduates or career changers to work as full-time teachers for two years in low-income communities. Grouped in small cohorts with 15-20 other teachers, they are provided ongoing support through a veteran teacher coach. Upon completing the program, they join a national TFA alumni network of over 66,000 and continue to impact their community in and outside the classroom. “When I joined TFA in 2011, I knew that I was making a lifelong commitment to education equity,” says Julia Sweeney, 2011 Mississippi Delta TFA alum and director of sales with Edcite.
Today, Sacramento alone is home to over 500 TFA alumni: 75 percent are still working in schools (44 percent continue to lead as classroom teachers, with 31 percent leading schools as principals or district leaders), 20 percent are civic or systems leaders, while 5 percent are entrepreneurs. “That shows the tremendous range of impact we have, and our long-term commitment to students in the Greater Sacramento region,” says Richards.
Considering the concentration of influence and leadership its alumni network has in Sacramento, TFA is taking a strategic pause on placing new teachers in the region in order to invest more in their network of 500-plus alumni leaders. “Our priority for the next couple of years is leveraging the power of our alumni network to contribute to positive change,” Richards says.
Alumni in Sacramento are eager to pursue this exciting opportunity. “Working together with other community leaders and educators, TFA alumni can play an important role in supporting change and having honest and critical conversations about the educational inequities present in Sacramento,” says Manuel Buenrostro, 2006 Los Angeles TFA alum and associate director of policy with Californians Together.
Thinking about the future of its work, TFA is doubling down on its promise to support lifelong equity-oriented leaders by building a highly connected network of alumni. “I’ve been in this work for almost 20 years and have worked with teachers and leaders with different backgrounds, affiliations and beliefs. I want to work alongside others committed to ensuring equitable outcomes are true for every student in Sacramento. Our city has too much to offer and complex challenges to solve, and we’re going to need every young person available to help make Sac the best it can be,” says Shannon Wheatley, 2004 Rio Grande Valley TFA alum and founder and CEO of Lane 9 Consulting.
By 2030, TFA believes this innovative alumni strategy will result in significant change for Sacramento students. “We can learn from school systems that have made dramatic progress for students and it usually begins with a bold community-based goal,” Richards says. TFA is working with their alumni in Sacramento to develop a goal that imagines a future where twice as many students in our community reach key education milestones. “Imagine what Sacramento would look like if 78 percent of 3rd graders read on grade level? Our community would look immensely different,” Richards notes.
This work can’t be done alone, that’s why TFA is growing a broad coalition of equity-oriented leaders in Sacramento. To learn how you can get involved, visit tfaccv.org or email Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.