New teachers listen to veteran teaches during a break out session at Marion County Schools New Teach Orientation in Ocala, Fla. on Aug. 6, 2015.
Alan Youngblood—Ocala Star-Banner/Landov
By Nolan Feeney
Updated: August 11, 2015 4:52 PM ET

Correction appended, Aug. 11, 2015

Teach for America welcomed what it calls one of its most diverse groups of new teachers in its history, after the education nonprofit saw the number of applicants decline for the second year in a row.

More than 44,000 people applied for the 2015-2016 school year, a drop from last year’s roughly 50,000 applications and a significant decline from the the previous year’s 57,000 applications, which capped several years of growth.

More than 40% of the new, smaller corp of 4,100 people—the organization maintains a 15% acceptance rate—identify as black, Latino or multi-racial or multi-ethnic; a third of them are the first in their families to graduate from a college or university.

Launched by Wendy Kopp in 1990, Teach for America places accomplished college graduates in low-income schools across the country to combat inequality in the education system. But some critics say the program neither adequately prepare its teachers, who receive a few weeks of training for the two-year commitment, nor makes lasting change with the frequent turnover of its teaching corps.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated when Teach for America announced its lower 2015 application numbers. It was in March 2015.

Write to Nolan Feeney at nolan.feeney@time.com.

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