In 2009, author Jim Collins told Time magazine that Teach For America Founder Wendy Kopp was the entrepreneur of the decade. "The ultimate entrepreneurial act is creating a movement," noted Collins. "Wendy Kopp is... demonstrating the idea that entrepreneurship is about an idea more than just an organization."
At this same time, Wendy Kopp launched Teach For All as a separate entity from Teach For America to address what she calls "the Long Game" of fundamentally altering the world's trajectory through tackling the root issues of the achievement gap in education.
Teach For All's mission is to expand educational opportunity around the world by increasing and accelerating the impact of social enterprises that are cultivating the leadership necessary for change.
Teach For All's Structure and Goals
Kopp described the impetus for her collaboration with Brett Wigdortz of Teach First and the thirty other social enterprises have since joined the Teach For All network:
"One thing I came to see, and probably just knew intuitively, is this is a search for allies. You actually don't need everyone - you need a few true allies. And I feel like my whole last twenty years [at the helm of Teach For America] has been a search for allies."
Because the organizations in the Teach For All network face similar challenges, the best practices they develop are applicable across country lines. And the innovations that teachers, alumni, and staff develop in adapting to their respective educational landscapes can pioneer progress throughout the alliance.
As the Teach For All website states: "We move forward faster by working together."
Teach For All's strategy of accelerating learning within organizations to then accelerate learning in classrooms is codified in its goals of capturing knowledge; creating high-impact direct connections; increasing access to global resources; and investing in leadership development.
Teach For All network partners are independent social enterprises that take largely the same approach to addressing the achievement gap between affluent and underserved students in their respective countries through systemic change.
Key Success Factors Moving Forward
Teach For All should establish a framework for balancing its numerous endeavors such as knowledge-sharing facilitation; networking; advocacy; fundraising; and incubating new partner organizations. This will help keep partners on the same page by guiding Teach For All's overall programming, innovation, and metrics for success.
It is currently unclear how funds donated to Teach For All are dividing among the network partners, and what exactly are the guiding principles for budgeting in this regard. Allocating resources according to performance metrics could undermine the alliance by de-incentivizing the spread of best practices.
Moreover, the partner organizations with less impact performance data are likely more in need, not less in need, of guidance and resources from Teach For All headquarters than are the more established partners.
Improving transparency will not only benefit the alliance's internal operations -- it will also accelerate its overall success by strengthening external communications and inspiring new organizations to join.
Along with formal activities, social entrepreneurs in the Teach For All network attest to finding great comfort and community in knowing that their peers are engaged in similar struggles. For all the data and strategic logic behind the alliance, Teach For All must not turn a blind eye to the significant emotional value it can foster.
Finally, the alliance can help steer criticism towards more productive ends by using the attention to inspire wider debate upon the topic of education reform.
This is a challenge more effectively taken on as an alliance than as individual organizations because Teach For All can leverage its collective resources to influence the conversation rather than come across as defensive in the way a single partner might.
One Day, All Children
Eradicating inequality requires field-building entrepreneurship, and Kopp is positioning this exercise in alchemy to be her most ambitious feat yet.
In many circumstances, alliances achieve what no single organization can do alone. One such instance is the exceptionally nuanced and impossibly difficult cause of improving education for those most in need.
The simple, powerful idea of eliminating the achievement gap has become embodied by the organization Teach For America, and it is now expanding into a movement through the Teach For All network.
In order for us to one day achieve the vision of providing all children with excellent education, Teach For All and other social impact alliances must increasingly come together to improve the breadth and depth of work being done.