7 Highlights from 2015

With 2015 drawing to a close, CEO Richard Barth shares some highlights of what we’ve been up to, and his gratitude for all those who helped make it happen.

By Richard Barth, Chief Executive Officer, KIPP Foundation

2015 is drawing to a close. Continuing an annual tradition of looking back at the year, I want to share some highlights of what we’ve been up to, and my gratitude for all those who helped make it happen.


1. KIPP now serves nearly 70,000 students, up from 28,000 just 5 years ago.


KIPP opened 21 new schools this year, growing our national network to 183 schools serving nearly 70,000 students in grades PreK-12.

Among the milestones we reached:

  • Ten KIPP regions have completed their growth to a full K-12 system. These regions are now serving students all the way through elementary, middle, and high school: KIPP Austin, KIPP DC, KIPP Delta, KIPP Eastern North Carolina, KIPP Houston, KIPP Memphis, KIPP New Jersey, KIPP New Orleans, KIPP NYC, and KIPP Philadelphia.
  • 69 percent of our middle schools have a feeder elementary school, and 72 percent of our fully grown middle schools feed into a KIPP high school.
  • Three KIPP regions—KIPP Bay Area, KIPP Delta, and KIPP Eastern North Carolina—opened schools in new cities: Redwood City, CA; Forrest City, AR; and Durham, NC, respectively.


2. Nearly 8,000 KIPPSters are in college, up from 1,000 just 5 years ago.

Our roster of official college partners is up to 76 schools, and one in five college-enrolled KIPPsters—more than 1,700 students in total—now attends a KIPP partner institution.

There are more than 300 four-year colleges and universities across the country with five or more KIPPsters enrolled. Want to know if your alma mater is one of those 300? Take a moment and check out this list.


3. From volleyball to chess, KIPP students excelled outside of the classroom, too.


Here is a very small sampling of KIPPsters’ achievements for the year:

  • In California, KIPP King Collegiate won their first-ever girls volleyball and boys baseball championships, and their girls basketball team were league champions for the fourth year in a row. Not too far from there, KIPP San Jose Collegiate’s boys soccer team were league champions as well.
  • In Georgia, KIPP Metro Atlanta’s Sounds of Royalty Band traveled to South Africa, where they played across Johannesburg, including an impromptu performance at Soweto Theatre with acclaimed South African performer Napo Masheane. At KIPP Atlanta Collegiate, KIPPsters were selected to participate in Project ENGAGES at Georgia Tech, where they are getting paid to do publishable research in a lab alongside professors and graduate students.
  • In Missouri, the KIPP Kansas City boys basketball team had an undefeated season last year and has not yet lost a game this year.
  • In North Carolina, KIPP Gaston College Prep won their first basketball championship, ending the season with a perfect 19-0 record.
  • In New York, the KIPP NYC College Prep High School women’s volleyball team won their PSAL division title, while the KIPP Infinity Middle School flag football team were regional champions.
  • In Ohio, KIPP Columbus girls basketball won their third charter school conference championship in a row, and boys basketball defeated two top-ranked, undefeated teams to win the state championship.
  • In Pennsylvania, KIPP Philadelphia Schools elementary and high school art programs won the 2015 Leadership in Recycling Education Award from the PA Resources Council.
  • In Texas, our students at KIPP Spirit Academy in Houston won first place in a Houston Chess Association tournament, earning the opportunity to compete at nationals.


4. Our alumni began to make their mark on Capitol Hill.


With the launch of the inaugural KIPP Capitol Hill Internship Program, KIPP alumni got an introduction to the nation’s halls of power and shared their personal experiences with members and staffers. The importance of representation in our nation’s government cannot be understated: today, just three of the 336 people who hold top Senate staff positions are African American, and just seven are Latino (source – The Washington Post).

In the clip below, Roquel Crutcher, an American University student and KIPP Memphis alumna who interned on Capitol Hill this summer, shares why she wants to dedicate her life to making the lives of people who grew up like her easier.


5. We launched a rich and rigorous literacy curriculum serving grades K-8.


Two years ago, KIPP teachers from across the country came together to discuss what we were going to do to accelerate the closing of the achievement gap in English Language Arts. They weren’t satisfied with what they were using in their classrooms and they could not find an off-the-shelf curriculum they liked. So we developed a literacy curriculum in collaboration with outside experts. It’s called KIPP Wheatley, and this is the first full year it’s being used in KIPP classrooms across the country. Next year, KIPP Wheatley will be available to educators outside of KIPP, and we are excited to work with others to implement and improve it.


6. We stepped up our efforts to share beyond the walls of our schools.


This year we expanded our efforts to engage in the conversation about what works in education. Just this month, we launched Beyond KIPP, which puts our most-requested resources in one public place. Beyond KIPP offers links and downloads in four of KIPP’s major focus areas: teaching and learning, leadership development, college, and character. We will continue to share what we learn and build, just as so many educators have shared their great work with us.

We also announced our fourth KIPP School Leadership Design Fellowship, an opportunity for administrators from districts, states, CMOs and talent organizations to collaborate together and explore different approaches to principal selection, leadership development and support model. To date, leaders from more than 70 organizations serving over 8.7 million children have participated in the program.


7. The Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law.


Just days ago, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) as the federal education law of the land.  ESSA’s passage is a clear testament to what’s possible when bipartisan collaboration is at its best.  We applaud the leadership of Senator Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Murray (D-WA) along with Congressman Kline (R-MN), Congressman Scott (D-VA) and the Obama Administration.

While no legislation is perfect, we believe ESSA marks a new day in education reform. KIPP co-founder Mike Feinberg shared more information on ESSA in an Influencer post on LinkedIn.



As always, I want to close by sharing my immense gratitude for everyone who has made 2015 such a great year for KIPP. To our national and local boards of directors; to our partners and community supporters; to our families; to our support staff in schools, regions, and the KIPP Foundation; to our school leaders; to our teachers; and finally, to our KIPPsters, both current and alumni—thank you.

As we shared through this moving video at KIPP School Summit, thank you for all that you do every day to make this a better world for us all.

We’ve accomplished a lot in 2015, but there’s still much work to do. Let’s all use the winter break to rest and renew, so that we can come back reenergized to make 2016 the best year yet for our KIPPsters.

Onward to 2016!