Davidson College teams up with KIPP charter

ByElisabeth Arriero
KIPP Partnership Davidson College

Davidson College and Duke University partnered with KIPP Charter Schools to help bring quality private post-secondary education to underprivileged youth throughout the country.

The partnership means that Davidson and Duke will recruit students from KIPP schools and give them experiences and guidance that will help them get accepted and do well on the college level.

“At KIPP, our mission is to put underserved students on the road to college and a better future,” said Steve Mancini, a spokesman for the 100-plus KIPP charter schools organization in a statement. “We are excited about how this partnership will give our kids a chance to attend some of the nation’s top universities at a cost they can afford.”

It’s the first higher education school partnership in North Carolina for KIPP, a charter that pushes a college-bound culture for low-income and minority students.

KIPP, which stands for the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools that aims to prepare underprivileged students for success in college and in life.There are 109 KIPP schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia serving more than 33,000 students.

KIPP has schools in Charlotte as well as in Gaston in Northampton County, in the eastern part of the state.

Davidson College, which was the first college to sign onto the program, hopes to recruit and enroll a group of qualified KIPP alumni beginning in the 2013-14 academic year.

As a first step, 10 rising KIPP high school seniors from around the nation will participate in a Davidson pre-college summer program, called July Experience, beginning in July.

Duke will recruit eight to 12 KIPP students each year for possible enrollment in the university.

Duke will provide those students who do enroll with a range of services designed to help them succeed as Duke students, including a pre-orientation program.

About $5 million will be designated for KIPP students who gain admission to Duke.

Davidson and Duke have a needs-blind admissions policy, which means they do not consider an applicant’s ability to pay for college when making admissions decisions.

Both schools guarantee to meet the full demonstrated financial need of all KIPP students who enroll.

Tiffany Flowers-Washington, co-founder of KIPP Charlotte, said she was thrilled to learn about the partnership.

“It gives us the ability to help our kids in a more strategic way to not only get to college but also through college,” she said.

According to 2009 U.S. Census data, 30 percent of all Americans age 25-29 have earned a college degree. For students in the bottom economic quartile, only 8 percent complete college by their mid-20s.

By contrast, 36 percent of KIPP students have completed a four-year college after finishing eighth grade at a KIPP middle school 10 or more years ago – more than the average for all students across all income levels and four times the rate for students from low-income families.

KIPP aims to have a college completion rate of 75 percent, which is the same rate for high income students, said Mancini.

“We are just really grateful for this partnership,” said Flowers-Washington. “We look forward to seeing more KIPP kids in college so they can grow up and be change agents in our world.”

Chris Gruber, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid at Davidson College., said the partnership benefits the students and the schools because KIPP students have a reputation for being actively involved in their own education.

“These students appreciate what is being provided to them and the true opportunity that exists for them,” he said. “Nothing’s going to be handed to them except an opportunity to succeed, and these kids get it.”

Flowers-Washington said that students at KIPP-Charlotte are already excited about possibility going to Davidson or Duke one day, even though the oldest students are only in the eighth grade right now.

The oldest alumni from KIPP-Charlotte are in tenth grade at non-KIPP schools now.

“A lot of them are already Davidson and Duke fans,” she said. “When I told them, they were really excited to know that their chances of going to such great schools are increased with this partnership.”