Teach For America recently was recognized by a national Native American magazine for being a top workplace for STEM professionals, in part because of its Native Alliance Initiative.
The recognition came from Winds of Change, which is a quarterly publication of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. The designation as a “Top 50 Workplace for Native American STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Math] Professionals” is significant from a rural perspective because Native students often live in rural areas.
“Too often, the obstacles faced by Native students - including poverty, disenfranchisement, and educators who view their unique culture as a deficit instead of an asset - are overlooked in the dialogue around educational equity,” Robert Cook, managing director of Teach For America’s Native Alliance Initiative, said in a statement. “This honor by Winds of Change helps shed a spotlight on education in our Native communities, and supports our efforts to recruit more Native leaders to serve as role models in the classroom.”
Cook also is an enrolled citizen of the Oglala Lakota Tribe of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
TFA’s 4-year-old Native Alliance Initiative effort is intended to deepen its partnership with Native communities. It operates in four rural regions and impacts roughly 14,000 students. Teach For America has seen its percentage of corps members from American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian backgrounds more than double, from 14 Native teachers in its 2009 new corps member class, to 44 in its 2013 corps member class.
More than 75 corps members, alumni, and staff members who identify as American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian are planning to attend the organization’s Native Alliance Initiative Summit in South Dakota next week. Attendees will visit schools and reservations, as well as talk about increasing the Native teacher pipeline and implementing culturally-responsive leadership.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.