Teach for America-Phoenix has received a $25,000 grant from the APS Foundation. The grant will directly support five teachers leading science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classrooms in communities across Phoenix.

Today, a lack of access to STEM education in Arizona and across the nation is leaving too many young people unprepared for a growing STEM job market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, an estimated 8.3 million STEM jobs are currently available and that number is expected to increase by 17 percent by 2024. Funds from APS will benefit classrooms in the west valley, at Agua Fria and Copper Canyon high schools, as well as classrooms at Mesa High School and Pueblo del Sol Elementary School in central Phoenix. One of the largest providers of STEM teachers to low-income schools in Phoenix, Teach For America (TFA) has used this APS grant to recruit, train and support two first-year teachers and three second-year teachers, known as TFA corps members. Each corps member participates in a five-week summer training program to prepare them to be in classroom and receives one-on-one coaching throughout the school year.

Matthew Nelson, a Mesa High School math teacher, is one of the TFA corps members benefiting from APS’s support.  He says the vision for his classroom is for his students to work together as a family and to use grit and determination to reach STEM related goals that prepare them for future growth an future success. “Our main goal is to achieve a high level of math mastery that sets students on the path to take Calculus in high school,” said Nelson. “In my classroom, we understand that in order to succeed we must become comfortable with being uncomfortable.”  

Nelson explains that the APS partnership with Teach For America provides not only needed resources, but also the knowledge that he and other teachers are being supported by the broader community. “By supporting STEM classrooms like mine, APS exemplifies how we can expand possibilities for students and work together to improve education in Arizona.”

“Our decade-long partnership with the APS Foundation has helped us place dozens of teachers where they are needed most,” said Katie Tennessen Hooten, executive director of Teach For America in Phoenix. “As technology’s role in society continues to grow, we need to prepare our future workforce. This grant directly supports the recruiting and training of math and science teachers who are helping to teach highly critical skills.” 

During this school year, 170 TFA corps members will impact the lives of around 7,400 students across Phoenix. With the support of the APS Foundation more students in local classrooms will receive STEM instruction that will help prepare them for future academic success. 

Teach For America works in partnership with urban and rural communities in 53 regions across the country to expand educational opportunity for children. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding leaders to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity. Today Teach For America is a force of 56,000 alumni and corps members committed to profound systemic change. From classrooms to districts to state houses across America, they’re reimagining education to realize the day when every child has an equal opportunity to learn, to grow, to influence and to lead. Teach For America is a proud member of the AmeriCorps national service network. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.