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August 23, 2014, 11:21 am

UPenn teams up with area schools

Students enrolled in the four area Knowledge Is Power Program-affiliated schools will soon receive a boost to their collective academic bottom line, thanks to a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania.

KIPP and Penn have teamed up to spur college completion among the students at KIPP’s Philadelphia-area schools — DuBois Collegiate Academy, Philadelphia Charter School, Philadelphia Elementary Academy and West Philadelphia Preparatory — and has pledged to accept up to 15 students from these schools, as long they meet academic requirements.

The real bonus is that Penn officials and other community stakeholders will team with KIPP students, and the university’s need-blind admissions policy will help the students overcome any potential financial roadblocks toward attending the prestigious Ivy League university.

“Making a Penn education available to talented, hard-working students from every walk of life is the cornerstone of our efforts to increase educational access,” said University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann. “A partnership between Penn and KIPP is a natural fit, and we could not be more supportive of KIPP’s mission to prepare and help enable students in underserved communities to reach their highest potential.”

KIPP, founded in Houston in 1994 by Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, is a national network of no-tuition college preparatory schools, with a focus on placing the schools in struggling and at-risk communities. Currently, there are 109 KIPP schools in 20 states, serving more than 33,000 students.

The four local schools compose the KIPP Philadelphia School system, founded by Teach For America alum Marc Mannella, and currently enroll 931 students. KIPP Philadelphia has plans to grow to 10 schools and 4,400 students by 2019.

“Dr. Gutmann has long been a leader in creating a student body at Penn that is as diverse as America itself, and through this partnership, our students at KIPP Philadelphia Schools will get the chance to attend one of the country’s best universities, right in their own backyard,” Mannella said. “Not only that, but we also have the opportunity to bring more Penn students to KIPP as tutors, so they can be role models for our students and see firsthand what it’s like to be a public school student in North and West Philadelphia.”

KIPP schools nationwide appear to be doing at least as good as — if not much better than — their counterparts. A recent study by Mathematica Policy Research purports gains in reading and math by KIPP students to be significant.

KIPP also cites U.S. Census data, which shows that 30 percent of all Americans aged 25–29 have earned colleges degrees, contrasting that with the 36 percent of KIPP students who have obtained four-year college degrees. Demographically, 87 percent of KIPP-enrolled students come from low-income families, and 95 percent of KIPP’s total student population are either African-American or Latino.

KIPP has created 10 such partnerships with other universities since last fall, and although this is its first such union with Penn, the connections between the two run deep. Feinberg graduated from Penn in 1991, delivered on his mission to promote education among those needing it most.

“As a Penn alum, I am truly proud to partner with my alma mater to help get out KIPP students to and through college,” Feinberg said. “Penn has long been a leader in promoting both diversity and excellence in higher education. With this commitment, our KIPPsters will have yet another reason to work hard and dream big.”


Contact staff writer Damon C. Williams at (215) 893-5745 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .