A million dollars. That’s the amount the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation has pledged to Teach For America (TFA) for a very specific, very needed, very heartfelt purpose: To address the social and emotional learning (SEL) needs of students and teachers, which have only increased after years of the pandemic.
The grant will further expanding programs already set in place.
“Oprah Winfrey shares our unwavering belief that all children should have the opportunity to learn, lead, and thrive, and that teachers should have the support and resources to help them,” said Elisa Villanueva Beard, CEO of Teach For America, in a statement.
The grant ensures that TFA’s first- and second-year teachers—numbering more than 4,700—will be able to recognize and address the connection between social-emotional learning and academics. Building skills and mindsets will foster SEL for themselves as well as for their students.
Grant will have local impact in Dallas-Fort Worth
“The impact of this gift will be enormous,” Jessica Guthrie, chief program officer for Teach for America Dallas-Fort Worth, told Dallas Innovates. “By using her platform, Ms. Winfrey has been able to draw attention to the national issue of teacher burnout and the tools available that can help.”
“Two years into the pandemic, teachers have experienced unparalleled levels of stress and fatigue,” Guthrie added. “I’ve been witness to it. This grant will help TFA DFW provide even more support to our teachers and hopefully help interest others in joining the profession by showing they’re not alone.”
Free counseling and training provided to teachers and staff
Already, Guthrie said, Dallas-Fort Worth teachers and staff in the program receive 24/7 access to free counseling services through partnerships with BetterHelp and Crisis Text Line. Additionally, they receive training in eight different dimensions in wellness and adult SEL.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented emotional trauma for everyone, and unprecedented disruptions to learning, making the need for SEL programs more imperative than ever. Research shows positive long-term impacts on students’ behavior, well-being and academic achievement when SEL is practiced. It also impacts the well-being of teachers and their own sense of self-efficacy.
“We want our teachers to feel equipped to lead during this difficult moment, to feel part of a community, and to understand the connection between leadership and individual wellbeing,” Guthrie said.
Teach For America works in 350 communities
Founded in 1990, Teach For America works in partnership with 350 urban and rural communities across the U.S. to expand educational opportunities for children. Its leaders make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequality.
Today, Teach For America is a force of 66,000 alumni and corps members working in more than 9,000 schools nationwide.
The Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation supports worldwide organizations with a focus on youth education in underserved communities. Since 1993, it’s contributed more than $400 million in grants and donations, supported the education of more than 72,000 people, and served more than 75 million meals in the United States and abroad.
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