Washington DC

Teach for America is a fascinating organisation. Founded by fresh graduate Wendy Kopp back in 1990 based on an undergraduate thesis, the not-for-profit now recruits over 10,000 graduates every year to teach in some of the most challenging schools in America.

The simple philosophy: that achieving meaningful improvement in some of the most disadvantaged lives in America needs transformational teaching.

The model also helped to inform the development of Teach First in the UK, and since then over 20 other similar organisations across the world – from Latvia to Peru and China to Germany. In each case, graduates from good universities commit to at least two years of teaching in the poorest schools and in return receive an intensive level of training and support to push them to have the most impact they can.

Enabling Enterprise’s founder, Tom Ravenscroft, had the opportunity to attend the conference in Washington, DC as part of a delegation organised by Teach For All.

Some Highlights

The event made for an intense two days – with inspiring speeches from Wendy Kopp and TFA corps members. With the movement about a decade older than Teach First in the UK it was exciting to see the cumulative effect that having so many committed and focused alumni was having. Some alumni were working in politics, realigning policies behind addressing education inequality. Others had set up not-for-profit organisations, attacking a particular niche or gap in provision. And others had become inspirational teachers and school leaders, working on the front line to improve lives one by one.

The stories were extraordinary, and I was particularly struck by the passion of many of the speakers for having a transformational impact on every student that they had the privilege to work with. They knew that “good enough” or average teaching wasn’t really good enough at all.

And a back drop that included John Legend’s piano playing and singing and a video message from Barack Obama was sure to be an exciting one.

Staggering Ambition

What was most remarkable though was the sense of ambition. Simply having 11,000 motivated and engaged people together and excited about the educational change they could create was exhilarating.

It made me leave wondering if we’d been ambitious enough in our aspirations for Enabling Enterprise to this point. Up to that point in early 2011 we’d worked with around 4,000 students in the two years.

If Enabling Enterprise is serious about ensuring that every student gets to leave school equipped with the enterprise skills, experiences and aspirations to live a full life, 4,000 students is not even a drop in the ocean.

So, in 2011-12, Enabling Enterprise is planning to work with at least 10,000 students and aims to work with 50,000 students every year by 2015. That’s my commitment.

See how Enabling Enterprise stacked up against that commitment by seeing our Impact Pages to chart our progress to date at www.enablingenterprise.org/impact

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