It all started with a simple, but powerful idea...

If we help children develop the academic and character skills they need for college and choice-filled lives, they will be able to build a better tomorrow for themselves, for their communities, for everyone.


The Program

KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) began in 1994 when two former Teach For America teachers, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, launched a fifth-grade program with 47 fifth-graders within a public elementary school in Houston, TX. The program was unique to the rest of the school because it followed a core set of operating principles called the “Five Pillars”:

  • High Expectations
  • Choice & Commitment
  • More Time
  • Power to Lead
  • Focus on Results

These core principles guide KIPP schools today.


The Schools

The following year, two new public schools began. Mike remained in Houston to lead KIPP Academy Middle School, and Dave returned home to New York City to establish KIPP Academy Middle School in the South Bronx. These schools started with a fifth-grade and added one grade a year until they were educating students in grades fifth through eighth.

By 1999, these original KIPP public charter schools were among the highest-performing schools in their respective communities.

1999 was also the year that KIPP was featured on 60 Minutes, which increased the schools’ national reputation and caught the attention of a man named Scott Hamilton. Scott Hamilton was leading the family foundation of Doris and Don Fisher, founders of Gap, Inc. The Fishers asked Scott to identify education-based efforts that had both impressive impacts and the potential to be scaled up nationally.

In 2000, Mike and Dave met with Scott, Doris, and Don, and the rest is, as they say, history.

Doris and Don committed $15 million in philanthropy to partner with Mike and Dave to replicate the success of the original KIPP schools.


The National Network

In 2000, the non-profit KIPP Foundation was officially established to recruit and train outstanding school leaders to open and run new KIPP schools. The first new KIPP middle schools opened as public charter schools in 2002.

In 2004, KIPP opened its first elementary and high schools, which paved the way for KIPP to become a full PreK-12 public school system.

In 2005, Richard Barth became the CEO of the KIPP Foundation and helped develop the regional growth model for KIPP’s expansion. The 200th KIPP school opened in fall 2016 and we are excited about the future that is still ahead for KIPP team and family.