7 Highlights from 2013

By Richard Barth, KIPP Foundation CEO

In keeping with what is becoming an annual tradition, I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of KIPP’s highlights from 2013.


#1 – We opened our 141st school

Three years ago, we served 27,000 students, and 1,000 KIPP alumni were in college. We decided then to focus all of our efforts in the communities in which we were already working, and create opportunities for students to stay with us from as early as age three all the way through high school.

This year, we opened our 141st school and we are now privileged to serve more than 50,000 KIPPsters in 47 elementary, 74 middle, and 20 high schools. As we grow, we are moving closer to the day when a child, whether growing up in San Antonio, the Arkansas Delta, New Orleans or Atlanta will have the opportunity to attend a KIPP school for their entire primary and secondary education.

ribbon cutting

Nadia Jones, alongside KIPP students, cuts the ribbon during the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for KIPP Destiny. Managing partners Andre Agassi and Bobby Turner of Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund which provided funding for the elementary are seen in the back of the group. Photo credit: Kim Leeson


#2 – We continue to see extraordinary results across our network

At KIPP, we define school health across Six Essential Questions. This year, as we look at our results, there is much to recognize:

  • Are we serving the children who need us? Nationally, 87% of KIPP students qualify for free or reduced price meals and 95% are African American or Latino.
  • Are our KIPPsters staying with us? Two-thirds of our schools lowered their student attrition rate this year, and we expect attrition to come down again in the current school year. KIPP in New York City had a 5% attrition rate, a tremendous accomplishment.
  • Are our students progressing and achieving academically? Results for all KIPP schools and regions can be found online in our annual Report Card, but a few highlights I’ll include here are that KIPP LA Prep was ranked the highest performing middle school in the city of Los Angeles for the third year in a row; our 2nd graders in LA are now achieving at the same academic levels as our incoming 5th graders in the same city; and, KIPP Bay Area Schools ranks in the top 7% of all middle and high school districts in the state. In Minneapolis, KIPP Stand Academy was recently designated by the state as a Celebration School in recognition of student achievement gains, and the 16 new schools that we opened in summer 2012 produced many of the strongest results in the entire KIPP network in cities ranging from Memphis to Chicago.
  • Are KIPP alumni climbing the mountain to and through college? More than 4,500 KIPP alumni are now in college, up from 3,000 last year. 42% of all KIPPsters who completed 8th grade 10 or more years ago have earned a bachelor’s degree. As a reminder, just over 30% of all American adults have a college degree. While we are working towards the day when first-generation college students graduate from college at the same rate as students growing up in high-income communities, we are incredibly proud of all that our oldest KIPPsters have accomplished.

KIPPsters from Memphis pause from their work to acknowledge the camera. Photo credit: Ethan Pines


#3 – Our arts and athletics programs are richer and stronger than ever

At this year’s KIPP School Summit, we got to witness firsthand the exceptional artistic talents of so many KIPPsters from across the country. Take a minute to enjoy the performances of the KIPP Tulsa Drum Line and KIPP Academy Nashville Performance Choir.

KIPP schools across the country are also proving what is possible on the sports field. In Massachusetts, our Girls’ Basketball team won its 2nd conference championship in two years. In New Orleans, the KIPP Central City football team earned the league championship. In North Carolina, KIPP Gaston College Prep’s football team won their conference championship in overtime. And, in California, KIPP King Collegiate High School won league championships in 2013 in Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball as well as Boys’ and Girls’ Cross Country.

And, our fall days were made a bit brighter this year when we got the chance to witness an example of pure grit on display by KIPP Houston alumnus Jayson Carter. A student at Rice University, Carter is 4’9” and weighs 130 pounds. He is the smallest player in Division I College Football, and in a game against UTEP, Carter got his chance to play.


KIPP Nashville Performance Choir takes the stage at KIPP School Summit 2013.


 #4 – We are harnessing the vital behaviors to make school leadership sustainable

Longevity matters. Our data shows that school leader longevity is correlated with key positive outcomes, including both lower student attrition and greater student achievement gains. While we have always believed that great schools exist because of great leaders, we are more committed than ever to increasing both the success and tenure of our leaders.

In partnership with David Maxfield from Vital Smarts, we convened a group of 30 remarkable leaders from across KIPP and conducted an extensive research project, including collecting data and 150 stories from current as well as former KIPP principals. From this work, we identified four Vital Behaviors that we believe are critical to increasing the sustainability of the school leader role. This year, we infused the Vital Behaviors into all KIPP school leadership programming for our network. From emerging leaders to sitting school leaders to regional leaders, KIPP leaders across the country have a common language and are deepening their skills as individuals and as managers in teaching and insisting, prioritizing and executing, engaging lifelines, and renewing to get stronger.

KIPP Bridge Charter School (middle school), Oakland, CA, March 2011.

School leader Lolita E. Jackson became the principal of KIPP Bridge Charter School in 2009. In 2011, KIPP Bridge was named Hart Vision School of the Year and a California Distinguished School. Previously, she was the principal of KIPP Heartwood Academy in San Jose. Mrs. Jackson began her career with KIPP as the founding fifth grade math teacher at KIPP Heartwood in 2004. Photo credit: Ethan Pines


#5 – We continued to see our schools and teachers integrate and leverage technology in the classroom in pursuit of more personalized learning

In fall 2010, we opened KIPP Empower Academy, our first school with a blended learning instructional model. Just three years later, from New Orleans to St. Louis, from D.C. to Chicago, and everywhere in between, more than 40 KIPP schools are now innovating with instructional technology. To learn more about what we are up to or to get involved in this work, contact Michelle Bruce (mbruce@kipp.org) or Anirban Bhattacharyya (abhattacharyya@kipp.org).


Fifth graders use touch screen devices to track progress on their reading speed and comprehension at Rise Academy, a KIPP school in Newark, NJ. Photo credit: Thomas de Simon


#6 – We are developing innovative supports to see our students to and through college

Nearly 3,000 KIPPsters are applying to college as we head off for winter break, up from just 1,000 two years ago. We know what we have always known; that the climb through college for our KIPPSters–and all first generation students–is incredibly tough. The exciting news is that because we follow every 8th grade KIPPster on their path through life, we know so much more now about the specific challenges our KIPPsters face.

Having learned the critical importance in distinguishing between going to college and going to the right college, our KIPP Through College team launched the Match Matters initiative this year to ensure that students are applying to the right mix of likely, match and reach colleges. And, we have established 47 partnerships with colleges and universities that we hope are reducing the number of obstacles first-generation college going students experience when they head off to higher education. Learn more about the ways we are supporting students on the journey “to and through” at every stage.


KIPP alumni at the KIPP College Ambassador Leadership Summit hosted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


#7 – We collaborated, shared, and learned from others with the goal of improving education for all

2013 was a year marked by incredible examples of collaboration. Notably:

  • With the support of our Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education and matching grant partners, we launched the second cohort of the KIPP Leadership Design Fellowship. During this eight-month program, we share KIPP’s leadership development practices with administrators of public school districts and principal preparation programs. Leaders from 40 organizations that collectively serve 4.3 million public school students have participated to date. Read how school districts and KIPP are learning from each other in this conversation between two KLDF participants.
  • In Newark, NJ, TEAM schools and other charters are joining with the school district to create a universal enrollment plan for students across the city. This unprecedented move is a testament to equity for all.
  • In St. Louis, MO, local district Superintendent Kelvin Adams and KIPP Executive Director Kelly Garrett have continued to build a strong partnership, sharing best practices and collaborating in ways that put students first. In Minneapolis, KIPP Stand Academy was recently named an Anchor School by Northside Achievement Zone, a collaboration of organizations and schools partnering with families in a geographic “Zone” of North Minneapolis to prepare children to graduate from high school ready for college.
  • Through a national partnership with Accenture, we were able to expand the Future Focus college and career readiness program. This unique program delivers skills training, mentoring and internships to students across the KIPP network. This year, KIPP high school students were connected with more than 250 internships and applied learning opportunities across 70+ organizational partners as part of Future Focus.
  • Along with 23 of our peer organizations, we co-authored a paper outlining the key policy challenges and opportunities that we see on the horizon at the federal level. Speaking with one voice, together this coalition represents more than 400 schools across 53 rural and urban communities and 23 states, serving more than 154,000 students.

KIPP DC Future Focus closing ceremony on December 7, 2013


We end this year optimistic about progress made, and also grounded in the knowledge that much work remains. All that we have achieved is only possible because of those who work so tirelessly on behalf of children. And so, I close with gratitude.

To our school support staff, regional leadership teams, local and national funders and champions, local board members, national board members and KIPP Foundation staff, thank you. Your commitment, dedication, and perseverance in the face of challenges are a constant source of inspiration as we look ahead to 2014, a year which will mark the 20th anniversary of KIPP’s founding in Houston.

To our amazing school leaders, thank you for carrying this work on your shoulders, day in and day out.

To our more than 3,300 teachers, thank you. Everyone in the KIPP Team and Family understands that this progress is only possible because of you.

And finally, to our students and their families, thank you for your relentless drive to leave this world better than you found it. You represent America at its very, very best.

For a bit of inspiration as we all head into the holidays, enjoy this >



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