USC Marshall MBAs Doing Good
Each year, the USC Marshall Society and Business Lab (SBL) awards subsidies to MBA students who intern at nonprofit and social enterprise organizations. Follow their adventures.
I am now finishing week 9 of my 10 week internship and can comfortably share more about the organization I am working with and what their goals are throughout the country.
First off, Teach For America is a polarizing topic in which most people have an opinion about their mission. Coming into the summer, I was informed mostly by the recruiters I had met during my undergrad experience. I had no clue how much I was missing in the TFA conversation. My project is with the admissions team, and focuses on improving the matriculation rate of accepted applicants into the TFA corps. During this time, I was allowed to peak behind the recruiting that so often becomes a black hole. This was a really unique opportunity to connect mission and method. TFA’s vision is that “One day, all children will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.” They dont play around, this is a commitment to reducing the achievement gap. Everything they do has a focus on getting the right teachers into the classrooms that need them the most. For admissions, there has been a ton of fact-based research and analysis on what makes a transformational teacher. These traits that they have identified is what they are looking for in their corps. I wont go into more detail than that, but the really challenging part of this mission is to find a diverse group of applicants to join the corps.
The TFA is traditionally ~35% people of color. However, the schools that it serves are traditionally ~90% people of color with >75% receiving school lunch assistance. There is a big push to improve and grow the corps by 2015. There also is a push to improve the diversity of the corps during this time. This means that not only does TFA have to do better at recruiting these applicants, but must do it twice as well.
Once hired, these corps members are assigned to a region, with an emphasis on regions in the most need. (The Mississippi Delta and Kansas City are particular needs currently.) They then are hired into school districts with a need for teachers, and work for these school districts. This creates some resentment from current teachers that claim TFA is taking jobs from traditional teachers or that they are infiltrating the system. Typically, though, these students achieve alternate certification and then are members in the school rather than outsiders. TFA teachers are union members in many cases and are hired by schools that desperately need people.
After the 2 years, ~60% of the corps stay in the classroom to teach, some will go into policy or politics, and some will start social enterprises. Whatever it is, TFA hopes that these leaders will stay engaged and have an impact on the sector in a meaningful way.
How do I fit in? Well, I am implementing new methods to make TFA more attractive to students of color and from unique backgrounds. This has involved interviewing many current corps members about their experience when being hired, and reflecting on the issues they had when deciding on offers. It has been very interesting to hear so many unique voices and how committed our generation is to making an impact in their world, and how much social justice rules their thoughts and actions. It makes me proud and excited to be a part of it.
Next week, I will write more about the Ed Pioneers Fellowship experience. Bye for now.