How segmentation helped Teach for America reach millennials

Stephen Whiteside

Not-for profits used to enjoy a distinct advantage when attracting new talent, as they offered employment possibilities that were uniquely rich in purpose and emotional appeal. However, as pointed out by Michael Lewis, senior managing director for constituent strategy and insights at Teach for America, this monopoly no longer exists.

"We have a job that provides a lot of meaning," he told delegates at The Market Research Event, a conference run by the Institute for International Research and held in Nashville in October 2013. "Unfortunately, there's a lot of competition on meaning now, because you have a lot of for-profit companies that talk about the work in community that they do. So they also provide practical meaning as well, while still being in the corporate environment."

Teach for America seeks to ensure every child in the US benefits from a first-rate education by assigning top college seniors and graduates to schools in 45 under-served urban and rural areas throughout the country. Although full training is guaranteed, the organisation honestly relays the challenges, which are far removed from the business world. "This is a difficult job. We're competing against McKinsey, Accenture, Procter & Gamble; any place that does a lot of wholesale college recruiting," Lewis said.

Getting to know millennials