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The History of KIPP

KIPP began in 1994 with a powerful idea: to create a classroom that helped children develop the knowledge, skills, character, and habits necessary to succeed in college and build a better tomorrow for their communities. Founders Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin began by redefining what was possible for a classroom of public school students in Houston. The following year, they opened two KIPP middle schools, one in Houston and one in New York City. By 1999, these original KIPP public charter schools were among the highest-performing schools in their respective communities.

In 2000, reacting to the overwhelming responses to the 60 Minutes segment (see right), Scott Hamilton reached out to Mike and Dave. Scott had been working with Don and Doris Fisher, founders of The Gap, to identify an education-focused effort with the potential for impact and scale. And that is exactly what Scott found in KIPP.

With Don and Doris’ support and the help of Stacey Boyd (an education entrepreneur and Scott’s wife), Jessica Levin (an education policy researcher and Dave’s sister), and Elliott Witney (a teacher at KIPP Academy in Houston who would become a KIPP school leader), Scott, Mike and Dave created the plan for replicating KIPP. Their plan focused on leadership training and development, and KIPP’s Five Pillars. Over the next five years, Mike and Scott each spent time as KIPP Foundation CEO, and worked together with Dave to design and lead the organization. In 2005, Richard Barth, KIPP’s current CEO took the reins and has led KIPP’s growth since then.

As KIPP opened new schools in more cities, expanding from middle schools to elementary and high schools, our network began helping transform futures for thousands of children and families in underserved communities. Today, the KIPP network serves 59,000 students in 162 public schools in 20 states (plus D.C.) across the country.

Celebrating 20 Years

2014 is an important milestone for KIPP: our 20th anniversary. This anniversary gives us the opportunity to celebrate all KIPPsters—big and little, past, present, and future—who are such an integral part of our story and our success. KIPP’s history tells the story of going beyond what others thought was possible; it’s the story of the joy of learning—working hard, staying positive, being grateful, kind, and curious, and persevering toward a goal that all children deserve: the opportunity to attend and graduate from college, and to lead lives filled with choice and promise.

Our 20th anniversary is also an opportunity to celebrate what comes next, beyond the first 20 years. KIPP is part of a tremendous movement that is changing the face of education. As we look to the future, we will see our first primary school KIPPsters starting college in 2018 and beginning to graduate in 2022. We will see the first KIPP schools being led by KIPP alumni. We will see KIPP serving 100,000-plus children. Our 20th anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate this impact and our intention to create an impact beyond the walls of KIPP schools—so that all children have access to a world-class education that prepares them for a life full of opportunity.  

Learn more about our approach > 

KIPP catches attention when featured on 60 Minutes in 2000:

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