Teachers College’s landmark Peace Corps Fellows Program has received a new gift of $1.7 million from the Jaffe family to support student scholarships.

The gift by Teachers College Trustee Emeritus Elliot S. Jaffe and his wife Roslyn reflects the Jaffes’ continued commitment to endow and sustain the pioneering program at the College to prepare returning Peace Corps volunteers for careers in education.

And with this new gift, the Jaffes have contributed nearly $6.5 million since 1990 to support returning Peace Corps volunteers who pursue master’s degrees in teacher education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and teach in New York City public schools following graduation.

“The Jaffe family, through deed and generosity for more than three decades, has shaped the lives of young people educated in classrooms imbued with the experiences, compassion and dedication of former Peace Corps volunteers,” said Teachers College President Thomas Bailey.

“Mere gratitude cannot fully express the thanks owed to Elliot and Roslyn by TC, the Fellows and countless K-12 students past, present and future.”

The Endowed Jaffe Scholarship Fund for Peace Corps Fellows is expected to support approximately six students per cohort, with up to two cohorts funded at a time. A fellowship covers two-thirds of tuition costs, with the College covering the remaining one-third.

Since its inception in 1985, Teachers College’s program has placed more than 750 returned Peace Corps volunteers in New York City public schools. Today, there are more than 200 Peace Corps Fellows programs across the country.

With support from the program and classroom teachers, Jaffe Fellows teach full-time for two years while simultaneously pursuing a Master’s in education as well as other fields of study at Teachers College. They commit to teaching in the City’s public schools for a minimum of four years.

“If you think the Peace Corps was the only ‘toughest job you’ll ever love,’ think again,” has become a program mantra. The announcement of the new gift coincided with the renewal of TC’s program by the Peace Corps for a five-year term.

“My father-in-law strongly believes that those who have served in the Peace Corps, who then study and train at Teachers College, have the foundation to become great teachers in the New York City school system,” said Teachers College Trustee Helen Jaffe. “Having served in some of the most challenging countries in the world, the Jaffe Peace Corps Fellows bring the energy, trained skills, experience and desire to change the world through education.”

A prominent player in the history of the Peace Corps, the College was involved in the creation of UNESCO and launched a teacher training program in East Africa that was the precursor to the Peace Corps. In the early 1960s, many Peace Corps Volunteers trained at Teachers College to prepare for service abroad. TC was the site of the nation’s first Peace Corps Fellows Program for returning Peace Corps volunteers. Today, there are more than 200 Peace Corps Fellows programs across the country.

Elliot Jaffe’s vision was to create a robust support system for repatriating Peace Corps volunteers. Peace Corps Fellows at TC receive rigorous preparation, continued professional development, a faculty advisor, one-on-one mentorship and support for two years, and monthly professional seminars. Once they graduate from the program, they become part of an established support network of public school teachers and educational leaders. Peace Corps Fellows alumni host incoming Fellows in their classrooms, provide advice and lead enriching workshops for current Fellows.