A million dollars is about to go a long way toward the benefit of schoolchildren.
That is the sum recently awarded to Teach for America Buffalo, part of the national program that recruits recent college students to teach for two years in poor school districts.
KeyBank and First Niagara Foundation made the announcement Tuesday. The entities will pay out the $1 million over the next four years to help in teacher recruitment and training.
This is strategic generosity as bankers and business owners understand the need to build a skilled workforce. That doesn’t happen without the mentorship of trained educators. It doesn’t hurt, either, that many of those participating in Teach for America, a partner with AmeriCorps, are from diverse backgrounds.
Black and Latino students make up two-thirds of enrollment. The district has had difficulty creating diversity within its teaching ranks. Superintendent Kriner Cash and his administration have employed creative solutions, including reaching out to educators in Puerto Rico.
Teach for America, which contracted with the district in 2014, offers another pipeline of potential future educators. Over the past five years, 120 recruits from around the nation, including Alabama, California, Colorado, New York City and Texas, have been sent to teach in Buffalo.
Roughly half of those recruits identify themselves as minorities, a point that educational experts might rightly commend. It is important for young people to have as many positive, relatable role models as possible.
Just as many people can be reluctant to come to Buffalo, these recruits can be equally hesitant, at first. Then, like many others, they want to stay. Executive Director Katie Campos touted the high retention rate, one of the highest in the country “post two-year commitments.”
Recruits for Teach for America get paid by the school district and become members of the Buffalo Teachers Federation.
The union had been resistant. A few years ago, President Phil Rumore even claimed the program is “detrimental to our students and district.” It has proven not to be the case and, in fact, quite the opposite.
The million-dollar investment by KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation will pay dividends for the city and its students.