The Buffalo Bills, Buffalo wings, and snowstorms may come to mind when you think about this city packed with culture and history. It's also the gateway to Niagara Falls and sometimes called “City of Good Neighbors.” Buffalonians are known for rallying alongside one another in times of need to support one another—not just to survive, but thrive.
Despite its impressive history, the city today struggles with homelessness and poverty on the east and west sides, and it is still working to build an education system that will offer an excellent education to every student regardless of the school they're assigned by their ZIP code.
Racial minorities comprise nearly 80 percent of the district’s student population and 77 percent of students qualify for free or reduced price lunch. Only 54 percent of district students entering ninth grade in 2008 graduated in 2012, a graduation rate that is more than 20 percentage points below the state average. Even among those who graduated in 2012, only 9 percent were considered to be ready for college level work, according to the New York State Education Department. Additionally, the district struggles to retain new teachers, as more than a third of teachers with less than five years of experience leave the district after one year.
Many educators, administrators, community organizations, and parents are working valiantly to change this reality. In 2012, they reached out to Teach For America to explore a potential partnership to recruit, train, and develop teachers as one additional source of talent committed to teaching in under-resourced schools—and in high-need subject areas.