Thanks to continued support from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation, Delta State University and Teach For America-Mississippi are proud to announce the Teach For America Alumni Retention Assistance Program at Delta State.
The Hearin Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Jackson, has supported Delta State through numerous grants over the years. The organization backs Mississippi higher education and economic development.
The retention project strengthens and expands the partnership between the university and TFA by creating a pathway for TFA alumni to advance their education while simultaneously addressing community and economic development issues in the region and state.
The program encourages TFA alumni to stay in Mississippi after completing their two-year teaching commitment by providing opportunities for educational and professional development, while building professional relationships with businesses, communities and government leaders.
TFA alumni will engage in summer internships with local organizations immediately following their TFA service commitment. This engagement with local entities will enable alumni to use their skills and talents in areas such as economic development, community engagement, project and program management, event planning, creating economy initiatives, public relations, governmental relations, political areas, youth development and research.
In addition to supporting the internships, the Hearin grant will also provide funding for graduate school scholarships and graduate assistantships for 10 selected alumni each year who will attend graduate school at Delta State.
“While Teach for America-Mississippi certainly has a growing number of alumni staying, buying property, starting a family, educating their kids, and following their passions and leading on a variety of fronts here in Mississippi, the ongoing trend of exporting talent simply follows the current local and regional trend for college-educated, young professionals from the Delta,” said Barbara Logan Smith, executive director of TFA-Mississippi. “Instead of losing talent to New Orleans and Nashville, by partnering with the Hearin Foundation, Delta State University, members of the Mississippi Economic Council and others, we posit that we can foster, incubate, retain and attract at least 10 alumni per year who feed off one another’s passions and energies — and who then launch some social entrepreneurial idea or venture here that improves the quality of life of Mississippians.”
Delta State University President William N. LaForge could not be more pleased with the opportunities that will arise for all parties involved.
“This is a win-win-win. It’s a win for TFA alumni who have had great experiences teaching in the Delta for two years and are now looking for the next career move,” said LaForge. “We’re giving them opportunities for internships, graduate programs and graduate assistantships. The second win is for TFA itself. This grant underscores the value of the TFA and perpetuates the cross-cultural experiences that it fosters by bringing in people from other parts of the country. And closer to home, this is a huge win for Delta State, the Delta and Mississippi. Delta State will be bringing in students who otherwise would not matriculate here, and the goal is for them to find a career niche in the region.”
Robin Boyles, director of the Office of Institutional Grants at Delta State, echoed the president’s praise for the program.
“Delta State University recognizes the individual and collective value that Teach For America brings to the Mississippi Delta,” said Boyles. “We are excited that through this grant from the Robert M. Hearin Foundation, we will be able to offer this opportunity for TFA alumni to remain here in the Mississippi Delta following their teaching commitment, and continue to contribute to the community and economic development of the Delta communities.”
LaForge was quick to thank the Hearin Foundation for its continued faith in the university. The foundation has also backed groundbreaking programming such as Delta State’s International Delta Blues Project.
“This is yet another amazing partnership with the Hearin Foundation, and I am very grateful for their confidence and trust in us to put this sort of program in operation,” said LaForge. “This program has wonderful potential, and a big thanks goes to the Hearin Foundation. This will boost the value of our university and will bring in some amazing talent.”
All parties remain hopeful of the long‐lasting results this program will have on economic development, education and social impact in the region.
“We believe that this opportunity with Delta State University has the capacity to create an exponential win-win for the state through the deepening of established partnerships, the mobilization of new hearts and minds determined to highlight the great assets of our state, and address the challenges while living with us as neighbors — and a focus on making Mississippi a preferred destination for living, learning and leading,” said Smith. “We are excited about this new investment in Mississippi and our opportunity to be a partner in such an important endeavor.”
The program will be coordinated through Delta State’s Office of Graduate and Continuing Studies under the leadership of Dean Beverly Moon.
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About Teach For America:
Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding college graduates and professionals to make an initial two-year commitment to teach in high-need schools and become lifelong leaders in the movement to end educational inequity. Today, 10,600 corps members are teaching in 50 urban and rural regions across the country while more than 37,000 alumni work across sectors to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org.