August 5, 2011 — Teach for America's 2011 class of instructors includes 66 alumni of the University of Virginia – ranking U.Va. among the top 10 sources in the country.
Virginia tied with Harvard University as the eighth-leading provider among colleges and universities. The top schools were the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; the University of California, Berkeley; and the University of Texas at Austin, all of which have significantly larger undergraduate populations.
Teach For America corps members are top college graduates and professionals who commit to teach in underserved schools, according to the organization. Teach For America recruits individuals from all academic majors and backgrounds who have demonstrated outstanding achievement, perseverance and leadership.
Those selected receive a salary – generally ranging from $30,000 to $51,000 annually, according to the organization's website – and comprehensive health benefits from their school districts, plus additional benefits from Teach For America, including funding for relocation and help with student loans.
Last year, 48 U.Va. graduates were accepted into Teach for America, which requires a two-year commitment. Two years ago, 52 were accepted.
"We've been a top provider of Teach for America corps members for many years," said Barbara Hampton, associate director for employer services at University Career Services. "There's definitely a high level of interest in public service at U.Va., which makes the organization a great fit for students as they transition to the workforce."
The number of U.Va. students and alumni applying for the competitive Teach for America positions has climbed steadily in recent years, with more than 315 applying this year, Hampton said.
The organization estimates that more than 3,800 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade will encounter U.Va. graduates in the coming year.
"The job market could have contributed to the increase in applications this year," Hampton said. "However, there are a number of factors students take into consideration when applying for Teach for America."
Hampton added that some employers will defer hiring selected candidates for two years to permit people to work for Teach for America first. The Teach for America website promotes the fact that "many graduate schools and employers offer special benefits to our corps members and alumni," ranging from "two-year employment deferrals to application fee waivers and special scholarships."
Nationwide, Teach for American received a record 48,000 applications – 2,000 more than last year. The acceptance rate dropped to 11 percent, from 12 percent last year. The incoming corps members have an average GPA of 3.6, and all have significant leadership experience. This fall, a total of 9,300 corps members will teach in 43 regions across the country.
Twenty-two percent are the first in their families to graduate from college, and nearly one-third received Pell Grants. More than one-third are people of color, including 12 percent who are African-American and 8 percent who are Hispanic.
Two-thirds of Teach For America alumni continue in education, including 6,000 who work as classroom teachers. More than 550 Teach For America alumni work as school principals or school system leaders and more than 50 serve in elected office.