KIPP Launches First-Of-Its-Kind Alumni Network to Help Its 30K Graduates With Careers, Mental Health and Finances

ByRichard Whitmire

A first-of-its-kind alumni network for K-12 KIPP charter school graduates launches today, drawing on its unique national alumni base of 30,000 students that’s expected to grow to 80,000 by 2025.

The National KIPP Alumni Network offers both alum-to-alum support as well as outside professional guidance. The three external players in the network programs, financed by California-based Crankstart Foundation, are:

  • The Braven Career Booster Program, a two-week virtual career guidance bootcamp. The course will be free for KIPP alumni (classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020). It covers topics including building your LinkedIn, interviewing for jobs and how to network.
  • YUPRO, a placement and coaching organization specializing in historically underrepresented talent, will create a pilot program focused on supporting KIPP alumni who do not have a college degree with coaching and job placement. Eligible alumni must have at least two years of full-time work experience to apply for the program.
  • AYANA Mental Health will provide free mental health counseling services for alumni. The pilot starts with 300 alumni, who will have four free virtual counseling sessions per month. If the program works, it will expand. The sessions are designed to reach students who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and experienced trauma from the recent police shootings of Black men and women nationwide.

The idea for the network arose from a huge gathering of KIPP alumni a year ago in Houston. KIPP, which was launched in Houston in 1994, now operates 255 schools serving more than 100,000 students across the country.

“We found out that our college graduates were coming out of college and not landing jobs, or not landing jobs that helped them move up,” said Nancy Kyei, manager of KIPP’s Alumni Impact Team, which oversees the effort. “They were finding jobs, but not careers. It’s tough because our graduates don’t have a network of family and friends that generations of affluent students have had coming out of college.”

A survey of close to 5,000 KIPP alumni revealed their priorities: How to connect to successful people in their field, how to turn entrepreneurial ideas into businesses, how to advance in their careers, how to manage their finances and access to mental health resources. More than half said they would like to mentor another student from KIPP.

Some alums are already receiving support.

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