Wendy Kopp


In 1989, Princeton student Wendy Kopp submitted a 177-page senior thesis titled “An Argument and Plan for the Creation of the Teachers Corps”, which detailed her thoughts on and plans to address a national teacher shortage and the academic issues children from low-income backgrounds face. Little did she know that her paper would go on to have a real world, global impact. In 1990, Kopp founded Teach For America with 489 corps members in New York, Los Angeles, Eastern North Carolina, South Louisiana, and rural Georgia. In 2007, Kopp co-founded Teach For All, taking the Teach For America model worldwide and creating a global network of independent organizations working to develop collective leadership that is locally rooted and globally informed to ensure all children have the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

Kopp is the youngest person and the first woman to receive Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson Award (1993). She is also the recipient of numerous other awards, including the Schwab Foundation’s Outstanding Social Entrepreneur Award (2008), the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement (2006), and the Presidential Citizens Medal (2008). Kopp was recognized by TIME magazine as one of the forty most promising leaders under 40 in 1994, and later named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in 2008. She holds honorary doctorate degrees from fifteen universities, including Washington University in St. Louis, Princeton University, Harvard University, and Dartmouth College. In 2017, she was among three recipients of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation’s Knowledge Award.