DURHAM — As Teach For America marks its 25th year in North Carolina, the Duke Energy Foundation announced a $50,000 investment to support the education organization’s effort to expand access to high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in local schools. Currently, limited access to STEM education limits the academic and career prospects of many rural students.
The funding will help Teach For America meet demand for STEM educators from local principals — particularly in rural communities where talent shortages can be most severe. More than a third of Teach For America corps members in the region teach STEM subjects, compared to just 12 percent of teachers nationwide. Together, the organization’s 125 first-year teachers and 150 second-year teachers will reach more than 20,000 students in the 2015-16 school year.
They join educators of all backgrounds, along with alumni of Teach For America developing innovative new programs and initiatives, to close the access gap to STEM education for low-income students and students of color — from AP classes, to robotics clubs, to summer learning opportunities.
“STEM teachers inspire our future doctors, engineers, rocket scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs,” said Robyn Fehrman, executive director of Teach For America in Eastern North Carolina. “We want all kids to have access to that spark of discovery, regardless of zip code or income bracket. This funding will help ensure that our local students develop into the next generation of innovators on which our shared future depends.”
“Investing in STEM education is an investment in North Carolina’s future,” said Indira Everett, district manager of government affairs and community relations at Duke Energy. “By 2018, there will be 8 million STEM jobs in the US. We are proud to partner with Teach for America to prepare our kids to thrive in the workforce of tomorrow. ”
Teach For America recruits, trains, and develops top college graduates and professionals to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the pursuit of educational equity. The program has been helping to meet the hiring needs of local principals and district leaders since 1990.
A growing body of research demonstrates the effectiveness of Teach For America corps members. A 2014 study by the University of North Carolina, along with state studies from Louisiana and Tennessee, found that corps members have a positive impact on student achievement. The UNC study identifies Teach For America as the most effective source of early-career teachers in the state’s public schools, based on student achievement data.