We have been dreaming of launching this network of alumni for five years now, and I am so proud to see it come to fruition.
Created by and for KIPP’s alumni community, this is a suite of programs designed to support more than 30,000 KIPPsters which will grow to 80,000 alumni by 2025 and amplify their voices. KIPP has always assisted alumni to and through and college, but this is something new – created and run by alumni to support one another today and tomorrow. This initiative is among the first of its kind for K-12 public schools in the US.
How did we do it? We simply asked alumni to tell us what they wanted. In a survey of close to 5,000 alumni, 75% of respondents ranked personal finance resources, more connections to successful people in their fields and turning entrepreneurial ideas into businesses, as what they needed the most. Alumni also expressed a need for mental health resources to support them through their journey. And more than half (51%) said they would like to mentor another student at KIPP which goes to show that once a KIPPster always a KIPPster!
For the past year, the KIPP Foundation’s Alumni Impact team has been working closely with KIPP alumni and regional staff to design and build the National KIPP Alumni Network. In order to center alumni and their experiences, we:
- Hired 12 alumni design fellows to lead the creation of the network
- Conducted over 100 in-depth interviews with alumni from across the country, to better understand where they feel the greatest need for support and how they want to stay connected
- Sent a survey to all KIPP alumni, and received nearly 5,000 responses—the highest completion rate of any alumni survey to date!
- Created an open-source online platform to collect ideas from the alumni community about what a successful KIPP Alumni Network could look like
After listening to other alumni in order to better understand their needs and experiences, the alumni design team created the following set of programs:
We are creating Alumni Career, Interest, and Affinity Communities, through which KIPP alumni can connect with one another in their fields. The initial communities include:
• Personal Finance
• Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)
In November 2020, we will open up an application for alumni to lead or co lead one of these communities. Applicants must submit a vision statement and proposal, and all community leaders will receive a stipend.
KIPP partners with Braven for the Braven Career Booster program, a two-week virtual career accelerator. Recent KIPP graduates can participate in this course for free, learning about topics including building a LinkedIn profile, interviewing for jobs, networking, and more. Interested alumni can sign up here.
We joined forces with YUPRO, an award-winning placement and coaching organization specializing in historically underrepresented talent, to create a pilot program that provides coaching and job placement support for KIPP alumni who do not have a college degree. Eligible alumni must have at least two years of full-time work experience to apply for the program.
KIPP is partnering with AYANA Therapy, an online mental-health platform for marginalized and intersectional communities. Beginning October 2020, we are conducting a six-month pilot with 300 KIPP alumni who will receive up to four free virtual counseling sessions per month, as well as texting support, through the AYANA app. The AYANA therapist community is diverse, culturally competent, and experienced.
We are creating a KIPP Alumni Business Directory through which alumni can showcase their businesses, free of charge, to the KIPP network. The directory will open for submissions by November 2020 and will be available in early 2021.
We are developing a Personal Finance Community for alumni who are interested in learning and sharing resources around financial literacy and management. We partnered with Ashley Copeland, CEO of Stacks and the City and KIPP Eastern North Carolina (ENC) alum, to develop an eight-part webinar series called “Managing Your Finances During COVID-19,” to provide tips and resources for navigating this pandemic.
KIPP alumni are creating a network of Regional Alumni Associations. This month, we will launch a grant application through which alumni from any of KIPP’s 28 regions can form teams and submit proposals to lead regional associations. We will select six to eight associations who will receive coaching, professional development, and resources throughout the next 18 months.
The two leaders from each Regional Alumni Association will be invited to join the new National KIPP Alumni Council, which will serve as a formal advisory board to the KIPP Foundation.
Finally, one the goals of the National KIPP Alumni Network is to have 1,000 KIPP alumni in positions of power by 2040. We are building an Advocacy and Civic Engagement Community for alumni who are interested in advocacy and politics. Existing programs like the KIPP Alumni Leadership Accelerator and the KIPP Federal Policy Fellowship are already a part of that vision. The Accelerator is a 9-month leadership fellowship for KIPP alumni in their mid/late 20s and 30s who aspire to hold high-level positions of influence, impact, and decision-making. The KIPP Federal Policy Fellowship, established six years ago, supports eight college-age alumni in securing summer internships in Washington DC.
This is just the start of the alumni network programming and I am inspired by all that lies ahead. Funding for these programs is provided by Crankstart and we are deeply grateful for their incredible support.
Visit our KIPP alumni page for more information on the National KIPP Alumni Network and to learn more about any of these programs. Watch this video about the launch, email firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions and follow @kippalum on Instagram.
Richard Barth, CEO – KIPP Foundation