By Richard Barth, KIPP Foundation CEO
In just a few weeks, 3,000 or more of us will be gathering together in Las Vegas for KIPP School Summit. I can’t wait to see so many of you there, but I also know that many will be back home getting ready for the start of school. I’ve been able to visit the KIPP School Leadership Programs (KSLP) Summer Institute at the University of Chicago twice already and am looking forward to going back this week. Amazing to think that we have 250+ leaders attending Instructional Bootcamp right now!
For those who are coming to KSS, you know that Social Justice and Equity is a dedicated strand this year. We are looking forward to a great panel with Maria Teresa Kumar, the founder of Voto Latino, Adam Foss, a juvenile justice reformer, and Brittany Packnett, a powerhouse at TFA and co-founder of Campaign Zero.
This strand builds off of a year in which many KIPPsters reading this have joined hands to follow through on the commitments we made when we gathered together in Atlanta last July. I’ve had the benefit of working closely with many of you on these efforts. I want to follow up with you on the commitments we made and how we’re following through:
- We are carving out substantial time across the network to deepen our understanding of the power of diversity and inclusivity. At KSLP Summer Institute, cohorts engaged in approximately three days of Leading for Equity programming and engaged in conversations within affinity groups. This work will continue via intersessions throughout the year. We brought the topic of diversity and inclusivity to our Foundation Board and Local Board Chairs at our annual ED and Board Chair Retreat; EDs and Chairs discussed what this work looks like at the board level in their region. All KIPP Foundation staff members completed a two-day course on Diversity and Inclusivity, led by Derrick Gay, the first in a series of ongoing training and interviews that will take place throughout the year. We’ll be reporting out learnings in subsequent updates.
- We remain committed to showing up. This year, we raised our voices when key programs were under siege in the President’s proposed budget and we spoke out against the unjustified use of force by the police. We will continue to raise our voices and will be supporting and spotlighting the leadership of our alums who are engaging in critical work across the country.
- We believe in the power of relationships. We’ve spent time this past year with leaders at the Urban League (Mike, Dave and I joined the Urban League in our respective cities), Voto Latino, and National Council of La Raza (NCLR). And, in the coming weeks, we’re sending significant delegations of KIPPsters to their annual conferences. Please join us by following @KIPP on Twitter to follow these delegations over the next couple of weeks.
- We believe in keeping our promises. We’ve worked relentlessly (and the work is not over) to protect Dreamers, and have joined forces with NCLR to support the Escobar family whose father was deported and whose son attends KIPP Zenith Academy.
- We believe in the power of voting. More than a dozen regions hosted KIPP Votes voter drives this year, registering hundreds of new voters in our communities. This work must continue so our collective voices are heard to make an impact on the future of this country. This cannot only be something we do during a Presidential election but must be an ongoing effort.
- We are elevating the voices and perspectives of our alumni and will keep doing so. We’ve twice surveyed our alumni about their experiences in college and have published results of alumni survey to illuminate the realities our students face for policy makers. In support of all this work, we also redid our website to reflect our world today, with the aim of making it more respectful inclusive and welcoming. We filmed interviews with students, staff, alumni, and families sharing their stories and ideas and we’re using social media and email to make sure they are heard.
- We recognize the need to have KIPP leaders be part of important conversations. Over this past year, KIPP leaders from across the country have stepped up and out again and again. Thank you to all those who spoke to the media and sat on conference panels to share insights on character, diversity, leadership, college access and completion: Leyla Bravo-Wiley, Cherese Brauer, Tracy McDaniel, Jane Martinez Dowling, Craig Robinson, and many others.
There is lots of work ahead of us. I welcome your thoughts. Please continue to send your feedback and ideas to email@example.com. I’m also eager to listen to the conversations and ideas that percolate throughout Social Justice and Equity sessions at KSS in just a few weeks.
This value, of diversity and inclusion, is core to who we are and core to our success. Thank you for engaging with us in this work and for all you do, each day, for our KIPPsters.