I received the following article from a current high-level administrative employee at Teach for America. The organization is undergoing a major shake-up. He wanted us to know what was happening behind the scenes. He must remain anonymous, for obvious reasons.
March 17, 2016
Turmoil at Teach For America: Rounds of layoffs, leadership exodus imminent
Teach For America (TFA) is laying off employees from its national and regional staff.
CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard announced on February 29 that 250 TFA staff positions will be eliminated, calling the cuts “painful” in an internal TFA employee webcast. She said 100 new positions will also be created, leaving the net job loss at 150.
Despite the flashy celebration at TFA’s 25th Anniversary Summit held in Washington D.C. last month, TFA did not meet its recruiting target for the second year in a row.
2015 was the first time in its history that TFA laid off employees, and now it’s happening again.
But something appears to be different this time around. It’s not just the rank and file staff employees who are getting the ax, like they did in Spring 2015. This year it goes all the way up to the C-suite.
Sources say several senior leaders are “voluntarily” resigning amid alleged rumors of mismanagement and questionable business practices by the nonprofit organization.
Notifications went out two weeks ago to the first round of laid-off employees.
Unlike last year’s layoffs, when impacted employees were given notice several months in advance, this year TFA accelerated the termination process by breaking it into two separate rounds of layoffs. Employees who were given notice this week will be released on a memorable date, April 15 (Tax Day).
A second round of layoff looms, and survivors of the first round may still have cause for concern. The first round is supposed to be “mostly” national staff while the second round is “mostly” regional staff.
Employees who are part of the second round of layoffs will be released at the end of the fiscal year 2016, on May 27.
In addition to the staff layoffs and job restructuring, Villanueva Beard told TFA employees that the Office of The Chief Diversity Officer (OCDO) will be eliminated in September. Despite TFA’s self-professed commitment to diversity (it’s one of the organization’s core values), the decision to eliminate the OCDO comes only months after the new chief diversity officer was announced on TeachForAmerica.org.
The chief marketing officer, along with the executive vice president of TFA’s Public Affairs Team are also allegedly “voluntarily” resigning, although that wasn’t shared in the webcast two weeks ago.
The exiting executive vice president, Massie Ritsch, is CEO Villanueva Beard’s right-hand man, and he’s well-liked by TFA employees. Prior to joining TFA in January 2015, this former senior member of the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) worked under ex-Education Secretary Arne Duncan for many years. He directed communications for the DoE, just as he’s been doing for Villanueva Beard at TFA.
The U.S. Department of Education has given TFA hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants since 2008. Government funding comprised 38% of TFA’s budget in 2015, totaling $69.7 million dollars that year alone, according to TFA’s 2015 annual report*.
*Note: scroll to bottom of the linked web page for actual report, which is a PDF.