Toyota Tsusho to Invest in Teach For America North Carolina

Toyota Tsusho America, Inc. has officially announced an investment of $100,000 in Teach For America (TFA) North Carolina on Giving Tuesday. The program, called Future Forward, is a coaching program based on evidence and will initially focus on supporting students in Randolph County before expanding to other areas in North Carolina.

The main objective of the program is to provide college and career readiness support to students through personalized coaching. Since 2020, Toyota Tsusho has invested in a pilot version of the Future Forward program in Kentucky’s Teach for America Appalachia region.

“Our goal is to ensure that no students are left behind due to lack of resources and support needed to unlock their full potential,” said Dr. Monique Perry-Graves, executive director of Teach For America North Carolina.

According to a press release from TFA, up to 90% of program participants have identified a postsecondary pathway after completing Future Forward coaching, with approximately half of them planning to pursue a two-year or four-year degree after high school. The coaches are typically current college students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college, and they come from the local community and schools they serve. In 2022, the program in Kentucky had more than 320 student coaching sessions and over 200 hours of individual mentoring.

“Our aim is to provide them with the opportunities and support they need to become successful adults in the future, regardless of their definition of success,” said Dr. Stephen Gainey, superintendent of Randolph County Schools.

Elected officials, education leaders, and community members convene at the Future Forward press conference held by Toyota Tsusho and Teach for America North Carolina. (Alli Lindenberg/EducationNC)

The implementation of the program will begin at Eastern Randolph High School. Initially, Toyota Tsusho agreed to invest $25,000 to cover the program in one high school. However, during the conference, the company announced an additional $75,000 to expand the program to more high schools in the area.

“Our mission at Eastern Randolph is to ensure that every student has a plan when they graduate, whether it’s pursuing a trade, joining the military, or earning a two-year or four-year degree,” said Dr. Susan Chappell, principal of Eastern Randolph High School.

Being one of the pioneering regions in the country, Teach For America has been operating in North Carolina for over three decades and has trained more than 4,000 teachers. This year, there are over 800 TFA teachers in North Carolina, and it is estimated that they will impact more than 82,000 students.

“I strongly believe in the power of public education and in the potential of Randolph County Schools,” said Chappell. “We are familiar with each and every student in our school. I can tell their individual stories. Some of them face more challenges than others, and that’s why the partnership between Teach For America North Carolina, Toyota Tsusho, and our school is so impactful. We must advocate for our children.”

Left to right: Dr. Monique Perry-Graves (Teach For America), Susan Chappell (Eastern Randolph High School), Mike Lavender (Toyota Tsusho), and Stephen Gainey (Randolph County Schools) at the Future Forward press conference. Alli Lindenberg/EducationNC

Various local elected officials and education leaders attended the conference, expressing their excitement for the program. Toyota’s presence in the Piedmont-Triad area is continuously expanding. Toyota Tsusho’s parent company is the Toyota Motor Corporation.

The new Toyota car battery manufacturing plant, located in Randolph County, is expected to bring around 5,000 jobs to the region. Toyota Tsusho holds a 10% stake in the plant.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Monique Perry-Graves serves on EducationNC’s Board of Directors, and EdNC’s vice president and director of operations, Molly Urquhart, serves on the eastern North Carolina advisory board of Teach for America North Carolina.

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