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Social Capitalists: KIPP Foundation

43 entrepreneurs who are changing the world
Social Capitalist 2008 Winner

KIPP Foundation

Richard Barth, CEO
San Francisco, California
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KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools in under-resourced communities throughout the nation. At KIPP, we believe there are no shortcuts to academic success. Outstanding educators, more time in school, a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum, and a strong culture of achievement and support help our students make significant academic gains and continue to excel in high school and college.

There are currently 57 locally run KIPP schools in 17 states and Washington, DC, serving over 14,000 students. More than 80 percent of KIPP students are low-income and more than 90 percent are African American or Hispanic/Latino. Having been showcased on PBS, 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and most recently on ABC World News, KIPP continues to be widely recognized for putting underserved students on a path to college. Last year, Oprah called KIPP "a revolutionary new school system."

KIPP: A Brief History

KIPP began in 1994 when two teachers, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, launched a fifth-grade public school program in inner-city Houston, TX, after completing their commitment to Teach For America. In 1995, Feinberg remained in Houston to lead KIPP Academy Middle School, and Levin returned home to New York City to establish KIPP Academy in the South Bronx. These two schools quickly became the highest performing public middle schools in their communities.

In 2000, Doris and Donald Fisher, co-founders of the Gap Inc, learned of the KIPP Academies and provided $15 million in seed money to Feinberg and Levin to start an organization aimed at replicating their success. The KIPP Foundation was subsequently founded as a non-profit organization focused on recruiting, training, and supporting outstanding leaders to open new, locally-run KIPP schools in high-need communities nationwide.

KIPP Foundation: Supporting New Leaders

The mission of the KIPP Foundation is to build a network of public schools that prepares students with the knowledge, skills, and character necessary to succeed at all levels of K-12 education, college, and the competitive world beyond. KIPP trains prospective school leaders through the year-long KIPP School Leadership Program, which includes an intensive program of coursework in a university setting, residencies at other KIPP schools, and support from experienced KIPP staff. Since 2000, the KIPP Foundation has recruited and trained more than 50 KIPP school leaders.

KIPP schools have high expectations for both student achievement and behavior, and make no excuses based on a student’s background. Parents, students, and teachers all sign a "learning pledge" outlining the commitment necessary for school success. KIPP schools are typically in session from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, plus alternating Saturdays, and three weeks in the summer. The principals of KIPP schools are entrepreneurial leaders who have control over their school budget, curriculum, and personnel.

Imperatives Driving the Future of KIPP

In December 2005, Richard Barth was named CEO of the KIPP Foundation and set a goal of expanding KIPP’s network from 50 to 100 schools by the year 2010. To achieve this objective, Barth began focusing the Foundation's efforts on a set of distinct goals and organizational imperatives. These imperatives range from leveraging the KIPP network to deliver on the promises we’ve made to KIPP students and their families, to defining smart growth strategies and governance processes, to building a world-class organization and operating model. Ultimately, we strive to maximize the influence of the KIPP network and share the results, insights and lessons we’ve learned -- driving the success and sustainability of KIPP schools now and in the future.