Jaffe Presents Teachers College Fellows Program With Endowment
October 7, 2003WASHINGTON, D.C., October 7, 2003 – Recently, the Peace Corps Fellows Program received a $500,000 gift from Elliot S. Jaffe, Chairman and CEO of Dress Barn, Teachers College Trustee, and philanthropist. The gift will perpetuate the program at Columbia University Teachers College. Mr. and Mrs. Jaffe have also provided a separate $900,000 scholarship endowment to be designated each year to the Peace Corps Fellows program.
The Peace Corps Fellows program began in 1985 in response to “A Nation at Risk,” which warned that an entire generation of children in the United States was being raised scientifically and technologically illiterate. In the 17 years since the Peace Corps Fellows program was founded, it has become Teachers College’s most important effort to recruit, prepare, and retain outstanding teachers to rebuild New York City’s teaching corps. A significant amount of graduated Fellows are now working in New York City’s hardest-to-staff schools, teaching subjects for which there are critical shortages of qualified teachers.
Fellows commit to four years of full-time teaching in the same school in return for a substantial scholarship. Contributions from AmeriCorps, the Department of Education and private endowments allow each Teachers College Fellow to receive a scholarship of $21,450 over the two-year program. This covers about two-thirds of the program’s $32,000 tuition expenses. Upon completion of the two-year program, Fellows must agree to teach in New York City schools for an additional two years, for which they are paid regular teacher salaries.
The Program recruits up to 50 returned Peace Corps volunteers each year to pursue master’s degrees and teach in areas where there are critical shortages of qualified teachers. Over the last five years, the yearly incoming number of Fellows has grown from 20 to 50. The program has been so successful that it has now been replicated by 15 other universities around the country to strengthen the pool of teachers in their cities. To date, over 450 Fellows have graduated from the program, over a third of whom are currently teaching in more than 100 schools that serve the New York City’s poorest neighborhoods. More than 60 percent of the graduates continue to teach throughout the country.
Jaffe grew up in Paterson, New Jersey, at a time when many doors of financial opportunity were closed to him because of his ethnicity. That changed after a stint in the U.S. Army during World War II made it possible for him to go to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania on the G.I. Bill. Since then, he has had a successful career in business, including founding Dress Barn.
After one of his initial visits to the Teachers College, Jaffe recalled the impression that a Peace Corps Fellow made on him: “He told me that he had a group of students who had never been outside of the Bronx. He asked me for $210 to hire a substitute teacher for the day and to rent a van so he could take the kids to the country. I thought that was a buy I couldn't resist."
Since 1961, more than 170,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.
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