Teach For America received a major funding boost to continue its work in the Buffalo Public School District on Tuesday as KeyBank and First Niagara Foundation delivered a $1 million contribution to the organization. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says Teach For America has been working with the district at its high-need schools.
Some students at the Frank Sedita School on the city’s west side were seated on carpet with polka dot colors, engaged in a question and answer lesson their teacher, Maggie Chappel. She's been teaching for five years in the district through Teach For America. The organization’s Buffalo executive director Katie Campos said this funding will allow the organization to continue to recruit teachers from diverse backgrounds.
“And so when we’re recruiting people we’re sharing with them the very real problem with education inequity and they are the type of leaders who want to be a part of the solution and so they’re pulled into this work because they believe that this is something they can contribute to fixing in their lifetimes,” Campos remarked.
There’s now a big emphasize on bringing in diversity to help students relate to educators and improve their academic performance. Buffalo Schools superintendent Kriner Cash said the partnership has benefited the district and students enormously over the last five years.
“It’s a rigorous process and you have to recruit and you have to find places to live, the west side, for example, is on the up with housing and so even right now – we have 12 members here live nearby – if you can – it makes it even better to forge those relationships with the students if you live in the community where they live and so that’s the kind of spirit and the kind of strategy we going to do going forward – hopefully these dollars will help with some of that,” Cash said.
First Niagara Foundation Executive Director Elizabeth Gurney said they are committed, as a community stakeholder to continue supporting support city students.
“It’s helping recruit young people to come into the teaching field and to get the training and wrap around services that Teach For America provides. We have a growing group of them now, so we have an alumni base here in Buffalo, so they have that support. I’m not sure the exact number, but I know several are Teach For American principals in our Buffalo Public Schools right now, so there’s a really strong partnership and pipeline and those are diverse, young people that are going into teaching and going into administrative positions,” Gurney noted.
Teach For America currently has a network of more than 120-people in Buffalo schools, specializing in bilingual, STEM and English as a new language. The teachers must commit to remain in city schools for at least two years.