Making Equal Opportunity Real: Why We Partner with KIPP

By Carol E. Quillen, President of Davidson College

In a democratic society, a child’s future cannot be determined by the economic status of his or her parents. Equal opportunity must be real.

In order to realize this aspiration, we in higher education need to act. We must ensure that all kids who work hard to excel in school can attend the college that is best for them. Davidson College benefits enormously from the intellectual curiosity, resilience, and commitment to the common good that KIPPsters bring to our campus. We are thrilled and privileged to be a KIPP national college partner, and I am lucky and grateful that this happened during my first year as Davidson College’s president.


Carol Quillen meets with students from across the country during Davidson’s July Experience.

Last July, we welcomed to our campus 87 remarkable young people, mostly rising high school seniors, from 22 states within the United States and from Greece, Bulgaria and Mongolia for July Experience. Nine were KIPPsters. For three weeks, each member of this group experienced the life of a Davidson College student—taking classes with faculty, living in one of our residence halls, and exploring our campus and the Davidson-Charlotte area.

Even in this short time, despite their differences, these 87 students grew close to one another through living and learning together. Individually, they brought their unique points of view, varied life experiences, creativity, and strengths. As a whole, they left with a more complete view of the world, enhanced self-awareness, increased knowledge bases, and better prepared for success in college and beyond. Each one also became part of our Davidson family and we are the better for their presence.

Climbing the mountain to and through college is not easy. But, most things worth doing are hard. And no one, NO ONE, does these things alone. KIPP has helped a generation of talented young people on their climb, preparing them for the challenges of college.  Davidson seeks out these young people. And if KIPP students choose to attend, all of us—faculty, staff, alumni and friends—will do everything we can to help them thrive, both while they are here and after they graduate.

And college is worth it. It is where you can ask, “what if?” and “why not?” What if time goes backward as well as forward? When is fiction true? How can separate EVER be equal? Salamanders regrow body parts; why can’t humans? College is where students and faculty grapple together with our society’s most pressing challenges: How can we make health care good and affordable? What is the relationship between economic development and democratic political institutions? How can I lead an ethical life in a world where people hold such radically different beliefs? What does this world most need from someone with my talents?

We at Davidson need KIPPsters here who share our love of learning and our commitment to leadership and service. We join with KIPP in working to ensure that all young people have access to the education that will best help them reach their potential and realize their highest aspirations.


Learn more about KIPP’s 20 college partners. >