Baltimore philanthropists Patricia and Mark Joseph donated $1 million to the city’s chapter of Teach for America, the organization announced Monday.
The money — one of the largest gifts ever to the city’s Teach for America corps — will provide intensive support for first- and second-year teachers and expand programming for the organization’s alumni network.
“We’ll continue to be able to be a source of diverse, committed teachers and leaders for the students in Baltimore,” said Courtney Cass, executive director of Teach for America–Baltimore. “This gift will also enable us to expand the number of leaders committed to working in Baltimore for a lifetime on behalf of educational equity.”
The donation will be spread over four years and go toward the recruitment and retention of a diverse corps of teachers, Cass said. The organization provides mentors and other professional development opportunities for new teachers.
Teach For America recruits college graduates who make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need public schools across the country. The organization has contracted with Baltimore schools since 1992. In the last 25 years, nearly 2,000 teachers trained by Teach for America have served more than 200,000 city students.
Among this year’s cohort of teachers, nearly a quarter come from Maryland. A little more than half identify as a person of color, and 40 percent say they come from a low-income background.
Last school year, 97 first-year teachers were hired from the Teach For America pool to teach in Baltimore. Of that group, 75 percent were rated as either “effective” or “highly effective” teachers. There are 175 Teach for America teachers working in the city this year.
The last two groups of Teach for America teachers had one-year retention rates of roughly 85 percent.
Alumni of the program have gone on to work as city schools principals, nonprofit leaders and politicians. More than 560 corps members and alumni currently work in the district.
Mark Joseph said he was pleased the donation could put the organization “in a place where their impact could be accelerated.”
Mark Joseph is the founding chairman of The Shelter Group, a Baltimore-based multifamily housing developer, and served as president of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners. Patricia Joseph is a former dean of Stevenson University.
“TFA Baltimore is really one of the most successful programs affecting city school kids,” he said. “Our focus for a long time has been organizations that help city school students, and we wanted to continue that.”