If you travel through the 13 counties that make up the Eastern North Carolina region, you’ll see abandoned mills and factories, relics of the industries that once boomed in these small communities. This area was once thriving, but the decline of textile production and other manufacturing in the region led to widespread unemployment and impoverishment.
Today, 25 percent of children in the state—over 500,000 in number—live in poverty, and the rural communities of Eastern North Carolina are home to the highest concentrations of impoverished families. As a result, there are huge disparities in educational opportunities for the kids in the region: 47 percent of African American students, 52 percent of Hispanic students, and 48 percent of economically disadvantaged students in grades three through eight are performing below their grade levels.
Still, Eastern North Carolina is a breathtaking and inspiring place, and its communities are working toward unprecedented success in classrooms by developing leaders in education, and investing in long term changes. Eastern North Carolina was one of Teach For America’s original sites in 1990, and we have strong relationships with families, educators, and community partners, working collectively to ensure that students in rural communities receive educational opportunities that will put them on the path to success.
After 26 years in ENC, the opportunity to make an immediate impact with students and families has never been greater. Today, around 270 corps members reach over 15,000 students in high-need schools across ENC’s rural communities with an additional 25 TFA alums serve in school and district leadership roles in the area.
Like other small towns across America, our rural communities have experienced plenty of change over the years, yet the need for impactful leaders and high-quality teachers is as present as ever before. Over the years we’ve seen hundreds of remarkable, diverse college graduates and professionals contribute to progress right in our own backyards. With your help, we can better fulfill the promises of equality and educational opportunity for all.