Two Atlanta colleges to partner with charter schools

ByJaime Sarrio

Two Atlanta colleges have pledged to reserve spots for qualified graduates from one of the nation’s largest chain of charter schools in an effort to increase the number of low-income students earning bachelor’s degrees.

Thursday officials from Morehouse and Spelman will announce a plan to set aside spots for students from KIPP charter schools across the country. Each school has committed to admit 15 KIPP students in 2013-14, and 20 each year after.

“KIPP schools across the nation have established a strong track record of educating high potential, underserved students who are ready for the academically challenging collegiate environment Spelman provides,” said Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College. “We are proud to partner with KIPP in this new effort, knowing that we have a supportive learning environment in which KIPP graduates can thrive.”

Tatum said Spelman has long been dedicated to serving unprivileged students, and this continues that mission.

KIPP is a network of 61 middle, 30 elementary and 18 non-profit charter high schools across the country. Charter schools are public schools that operate independently of the traditional school system, but are funded with tax dollars. There are five KIPP schools in metro Atlanta. A sixth opens this summer.

The charter schools largely serve low-income and/or minority students, who are less likely to go to or graduate from college. According to KIPP, early research shows its students are completing college above the national average, and graduating at four times the rate for students from low income families. But KIPP wants 75 percent of its students to finish college, a rate that’s on par with nation’s wealthiest students.

Seven other schools have signed on to similar partnerships with KIPP: Colby College in Maine; Davidson College in North Carolina; University of Houston, Texas; Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania; San Jose State University in California; Mercy College in New York and Tulane University in Louisiana.

Jermey Jones, a ninth-grader at KIPP Atlanta Collegiate, said he’s known he’s wanted to go to college since starting KIPP schools in fifth-grade. Now, it’s just a question of where.

Jones is considering Morehouse, along with Harvard, Yale and a few other big-league names. He’s excited about KIPP’s partnerships.

“It shows us that by working hard, there are unlimited things we can do in the future,” he said. “I am very proud [the colleges] are working with us and we won’t let them down.”

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