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.”
The KIPP Foundation has announced that it will partner with the University of Pennsylvania in an effort to increase college-completion rates for underserved KIPP students nationwide.
This is KIPP’s first college partnership with an Ivy League university and its 10th partnership with an institution of higher learning since the fall of 2011.
Through this partnership, the University projects enroll 12-15 students from KIPP, or the Knowledge Is Power Program, per year who meet admissions requirements, beginning in the 2013-14 school year.
This community of KIPP students will support each other on their journey through college. Because Penn has a need-blind admissions policy, the university will address the demonstrated financial need of all KIPP students who enroll.
Penn’s partnership with KIPP is part of the university’s long-standing commitment to diversity and excellence.
Penn seeks foremost to build a student body of highly talented individuals and believes that having a diverse student body enriches the educational experience of every student and broadens the leadership pipeline of graduates.
This partnership is one way in which the university aims to engage outstanding yet underserved students with high potential who might not otherwise have the opportunity to go to Penn.
“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,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said. “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.”
Penn's no-loan financial-aid policy for all eligible undergraduates enables the university to enroll the most talented students, regardless of socioeconomic status. In 2013, the university will expand its undergraduate financial-aid budget by more than 12 percent to $181 million.
KIPP’s connection to the University of Pennsylvania is especially resonant, as KIPP co-founder Mike Feinberg is a Penn alumnus (Class of 1991). Feinberg founded KIPP with Dave Levin in Houston in 1994; since then, KIPP has grown into a national network of 109 college-preparatory public charter schools, serving 33,000 students in 20 states and the District of Columbia. More than 85 percent of KIPP’s students are from low-income families, and more than 95 percent are students of color.
According to a 2010 study by Mathematica Policy Research, KIPP middle schools are achieving academic gains in math and reading that are statistically significant and substantial.
“As a Penn alum, I am truly proud to partner with my alma mater to help get our 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 continue to work hard and dream big.”
According to U.S. Census data, 30 percent of all Americans aged 25-29 have earned a college degree.
For students in the bottom economic quartile, only 8 percent complete college by their mid-20s. By contrast, 36 percent of KIPP students have completed a four-year college after finishing eighth grade at a KIPP middle school 10 or more years ago — more than the average for all students across all income levels and four times the rate for students from low-income families. Through initiatives across the KIPP network, including college partnerships with institutions like Penn, KIPP aims to reach a 75 percent college completion rate for its students — roughly the same rate at which the nation’s highest-income students are graduating from college.
Philadelphia is home to four KIPP charter schools. Founded by Teach For America alumnus Marc Mannella, KIPP Philadelphia Schools currently enrolls 931 students in Philadelphia and plan to grow to 10 schools serving 4,400 students by 2019. A handful of Penn students has participated in the work-study program at KIPP Philadelphia Schools in past years, and this partnership aims to increase the number of Penn work-study students at KIPP in the future.
“Dr. Gutmann has long been a leader in creating a student body at Penn that is as diverse as America itself,” Mannella said. “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. Not only that, but we also have the opportunity to bring more Penn students to KIPP as tutors, so that they can be role models for our students and see first hand what it’s like to be a public school student in North and West Philadelphia.”
Penn is the 10th institution to join KIPP’s national college partnership initiative. KIPP’s other partners are Colby College, Davidson College, The University of Houston, Franklin and Marshall College, San Jose State University, Mercy College, Tulane University, Morehouse College and Spelman College.
The Philadelphia School Partnership – a pro-education nonprofit which has a stated mission to accelerate the pace of education reform in Philadelphia by increasing the number of great school options available to children – will invest $3.4 million in two of the area’s largest charter school operators – KIPP Philadelphia Schools and Scholar Academies.
KIPP currently has four schools: KIPP Philadelphia Elementary, KIPP Philadelphia Charter School, KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory and KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy. Scholar Academies operates two schools, Young Scholars Charter School and Frederick Douglasss Charter School. According to the Partnership, these grants will help expand the reach of these schools by a combined 1,700 students.
“These school leadership teams are among the best in Philadelphia with strong track records of preparing kids for success in college,” said Partnership Executive Director Mark Gleason in a statement. “We are making this investment with the expectation that KIPP and Scholar Academies will partner with the School District to create and facilitate growth plans that serve families in North and West Philadelphia. These grants will help thousands more students in Philadelphia have access to a high-quality school and, ultimately, to college.”
The Partnership will finance the grant through its Great Schools Fund, which awarded a $1.8 million growth grant to Scholar Academies to serve an estimated 600 to 900 additional students through a pending expansion plan. Via the Fund, a $1.6 million growth grant went to KIPP Philadelphia to serve an estimated 700 to 800 additional students through a pending expansion plan. KIPP Philadelphia currently operates four charter schools as part of a national network focused on preparing low-income and at-risk students for a future business or academic career.
“We are grateful for PSP's support of Scholar Academies' continued commitment to turning around Philadelphia's lowest performing schools," said Lars Beck, CEO of Scholar Academies. "We're applying for another Renaissance School because we see the positive impact that Young Scholars Frederick Douglass has made on our students and families. Scholar Academies is rooted in the belief that zip code should not determine destiny, and through a partnership with parents and the community we are providing a high-quality education that changes the trajectory of our students' lives.”
While this grant is good for these charter operators and the students they serve, it comes under questionable timing, considering that the Partnership has come under recent fire for its multimillion-dollar support of the charter school system by making a series of grants and donations to it. Critics such as grassroots education organization Parents United for Public Education and others have criticized the Partnership’s track record and says it is not doing more to support traditional public education. In fact, The critics became enraged enough to loudly heckle and boo Gleason as he testified before the School Reform Commission prior to the its vote which resulted in the pending closure of two dozen public schools.
“First, I believe that KIPP was denied expansion by School Reform Commission last June. Now Philadelphia School Partnership is providing private money to expand KIPP. Is PSP now acting in place of the School Reform Commission and the School District of Philadelphia?” asked Parents United for Public Education member Gerald Wright, who had several questions connected to this development. “Second, In light of the recent ruling that charter enrollment can't be capped and in light of the State Department of Education choosing to pay carter operations directly out of School District of Philadelphia funds before paying the School District of Philadelphia, it appears that the School District is vulnerable to a ‘hostile takeover’ by private interests for a relatively small investment, if state law isn’t changed.
“Third, is it a coincidence that the School Reform Commission, a week ago today, voted to close 23 schools, mostly in North and West Philadelphia and today it is announced that charter operations will receive $3.4 million to expand in those very same areas?”
Still, these particular grans will go a long way toward helping more students learn better, the bottom-line result everyone is searching for.
“PSP’s support is an important building block in meeting the needs of families in our North and West Philadelphia communities,” said KIPP Philadelphia CEO and founder Marc Mannella. “Because of incredibly high parent interest and demand, we are ready to immediately serve more families in North and West Philadelphia. Over the next three years, we plan to serve over 2,500 additional students through the creation of new schools and expansion of our existing schools. Our goal – in partnership with our students’ families – is to dramatically increase the number of low-income students in Philadelphia attending and completing college.”