Richard Barth's Weekly Thoughts: The New School Year

ByRichard Barth, KIPP Foundation CEO


As always, I want to start this message with a huge shout out to all of you. I see you all doing an incredible job getting ready for a school year like no other. I especially see a level of engagement with our families that I believe will become the new norm at KIPP. I am seeing 1:1 engagement with families that is similar to what we do when we open a KIPP campus for the first time. I am seeing teachers using live video to engage families as well as the old-fashioned phone call. I am seeing school leaders host open houses early in the day and well into the evening. I am hearing families tell us that they so appreciate this tremendous level of communication. Thank you all!

For just one example, check out this video from KIPP Memphis:

So, if you are engaging your families in new ways, will you let me know? I want to be able to shine a light on how we are all meeting this moment—including sharing in my weekly thoughts. Thank you for all you do!

KTC Summer Learning 

Our KIPP Through College community came together last week for four days of virtual learning and collaboration related to career, match, persistence and management. More than 300 participants signed up for the 25+ sessions offered, and some sessions had 200+ attendees! The KIPP Foundation facilitators, community leaders, and external experts led with an equity lens, weaving questions of DEI throughout all aspects of programming. As one participant shared, “I appreciated the commitment to DEI and how it specifically relates to our work. This helped me to rethink our approach in several areas to move towards practices that are more affirming for our students.”
Also last week, we announced two KTC award winners:

The inaugural KTC Excellence in Counseling & Advising — Alexcia Gest Legacy Award has been awarded to YaMinco Varner, College Services Manager on the KIPP Through College team at KIPP TX – Dallas. YaMinco has been with KIPP for six years. She is known in her region for her justice-oriented commitment to college success and her support of students as they work to achieve their post-secondary goals with minimal debt. YaMinco meets students where they are and always encourages her team to have a student-centered and equity-oriented approach to their work.

The fifth annual KTC Excellence in Leadership Award goes to Peter Gooden, the outgoing KTC Director of KIPP Chicago! Peter just completed his 10th year with KIPP Chicago, and will be joining the senior leadership team as the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion in the coming school year. During his four-year tenure as KTC director for the region, Pete has brought his own experience as a first-generation high school and college graduate to bear in all aspects of team leadership and alumni support. Under his watch, KIPP Chicago alumni have graduated high school, matriculated into college, and graduated college.

Congratulations to YaMinco and Peter on these well-deserved awards!

Postsecondary Success Bridge Fund

We are continuing to invest in our students and alumni through our Postsecondary Success Bridge Fund program. This is designed to support KIPPsters who, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, are experiencing financial hardship that could prohibit their enrolling or persisting in their chosen postsecondary education or training program. The KIPP Foundation has awarded $1.8 million in pass-through funding to KIPP regions, to support students with tuition and fees, travel costs, course materials and technology, and physical/mental health support that has become necessary due to the pandemic. We want to make sure we don’t let this pandemic keep our alumni from realizing their dreams.

KIPP on Citizen Ed

On Monday, August 3, Naomi Shelton—KIPP’s Director of Community Engagement—was the guest host on Citizen Ed’s Facebook Live broadcast highlighting issues in education reform. Naomi spoke to KIPP alumni Roquel Crutcher, Dolores Lozano, and Nathan Woods. Check out the full interview!