FSCJ, KIPP sign agreement to promote attending, completing college

ByDenise Smith Amos
KIPP Jacksonville student smiling at the camera

Read the full article at Jacksonville.com >

Leaders of KIPP Jacksonville Schools and Florida State College at Jacksonville on Wednesday agreed to partner up on efforts to get more KIPP students and alumni into and through college.

The partnership is the first between KIPP and a Florida college. It’s also new for FSCJ, which has college-oriented or early-college agreements with Duval County Public Schools and with River City Science Academy, another charter school.

The new agreement means both parties will develop programs to attract KIPP students to FSCJ and retain them, including mentoring and counseling. KIPP schools could become work-study locations for FSCJ students and will be observed by those taking FSCJ teacher preparation classes.

The agreement also includes early-college opportunities in high schools, where KIPP alumni, like other students, can take college courses on FSCJ campus. Students can earn an associate’s degree by the time they graduate from high school.

“We want to encourage every middle school and high school student who lives in the Jacksonville area to come to college,” said FSCJ President Cynthia Bioteau.

Talking to KIPP’s seventh and eighth graders who witnessed the signing event, Bioteau added, “We want all of you sitting in the bleachers to come to FSCJ.”

She described FSCJ Promise, launched in March, which ensures low-income, full-time students in Duval and Nassau counties get through FSCJ with no debt and with help paying to tuition, fees and book costs.

KIPP does not have a high school, but it emphasizes college beginning with its youngest students. Its three buildings on McDuff Avenue handle 1,080 kindergarten through eighth-grade students, mostly poor and mostly African American.

Currently 260 KIPP alumni attend 25 area high schools. Three KIPP Through College counselors serve them through high school and into college, said Erin Almond, senior manager of the effort.

One of those alumni, JaNya Stephens, a Robert E. Lee High School senior, said KIPP Through College helped get her into Lee’s early-college program, where she has attended FSCJ during her junior and senior year. She expects to earn her high school diploma, a degree from FSCJ and a start at Florida State University’s premed programs, she said.