Low-income children in Colorado do not receive the same quality of education as their more affluent peers. While Colorado has the third highest percentage of adults with college degrees, our state ranks at the very bottom for high school graduates continuing to college. This extreme divide, known as the Colorado Paradox, begins early within our education system and disproportionately affects disadvantaged students. In fact, Colorado’s affluent students are three times more proficient than those growing up in low-income communities.
While the problem is daunting, we have seen evidence in classrooms, in individual schools and in some school districts that when students in low-income communities are given the educational opportunities they deserve, they excel. This clear potential of students fuels our sense of urgency to do everything we can to ensure educational opportunity for all.
Since our founding in 2007, Teach For America-Colorado has significantly increased our impact within the state's highest need schools. We now operate in school districts and charter schools in the Denver Metro, Colorado Springs and Pueblo areas. There are more than 650 new and experienced TFA teachers directly impacting over 35,000 students who are primarily Latino Hispanic and African American. More than 80 percent are eligible for free and reduced lunch, a government recognized metric for poverty, and a large number require special education or English Language Learner services.
Dramatically expanding the pipeline of education leaders is critical to accelerating the pace of change across the state. By infusing Colorado with more transformational leaders, Teach For America-Colorado is serving as a catalyst for system-wide educational improvement. But we don’t do it alone. We work alongside many others who have been working on this problem since long before Teach For America came on the scene. We’re stronger in true partnership with the countless others advocating for Colorado students each day.