Teach for America retools efforts to recruit graduates from top colleges

By Emma Brown, national education reporter, The Washington Post |

Teach for America has spent most of its 25 years working to expand, growing from a concept outlined in a Princeton student’s honors thesis to an education-reform juggernaut that places thousands of idealistic college graduates in some of the nation’s neediest classrooms.

But that growth has stalled. Applications for TFA’s two-year teaching stints have plummeted 35 percent during the past three years, forcing the organization to reexamine and reinvent how it sells itself to prospective corps members. It has been focusing particularly on how to engage students at the nation’s most-selective colleges, where the decline in interest has been among the steepest.

“It’s going to take us time to recover,” said Elisa Villanueva Beard, TFA’s chief executive, noting that the organization’s leaders are trying to “step back and take a really honest look” at why TFA is struggling to attract interest and how to reverse the trend.

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