The groundbreaking 2005 National Academies report "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" described the deteriorating position of the United States as a global leader in science and technology.

The first of the report’s four major recommendations was to dramatically improve the quality of K–12 math and science education.

One of the central challenges in preparing the next generation of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals is the shortage of qualified K–12 math and science teachers.

The National Science Foundation’s Science and Engineering Indicators show that as of 2008 nearly a third of middle school science and math teachers are teaching in a field in which they did not earn a degree and/or are not certified.

The high rate of teacher turnover compounds this issue, and urban districts in particular are acutely affected.

Nationwide, the teacher attrition rate is higher in urban schools than in non-urban schools.

Furthermore urban districts bear higher costs per departing teacher than other districts.

Cal Teach was founded to prepare math and science undergraduates from one of the nation’s premier universities for careers in urban K–12 education, and to provide them with resources and support to stay in the profession.