Richard Barth's Weekly Thoughts: Graduation Season

ByRichard Barth, KIPP Foundation CEO

I am writing to you on the eve of our Memorial Day break. Although the pandemic has put the usual barbecues and parties on hold for this year, I hope that many of us will still be able to take this weekend as a chance to rest and renew. I will be trying to continue to celebrate my son’s final weeks of high school, including getting ready for his own virtual graduation.

I wanted to speak today to this season and our seniors. This week and in the weeks to come, we are celebrating them for all their hard work, and in doing so we are all working hard—in spite of this pandemic—to live out our mission:

Together with families and communities, we create joyful, academically excellent schools that prepare students with the skills and confidence they need to pursue the paths they choose—college, career, and beyond—so they can lead fulfilling lives and build a more just world.

While we cannot be physically together at this time, the entire KIPP team across the country is finding joyful and creative ways to celebrate this moment with our families and communities. And we are honoring our senior class as they pursue their next steps in the path of their choosing. And, we hope that we have done all we can, in partnership with our KIPPsters and their families, to see them off to lead fulfilled lives and build a more just world. Today I want to thank all of our families, all of our teachers, and each and every one of you reading this who has brought us to this moment. And most of all, let me join everyone in congratulating the KIPP class of 2020!

Students Persisting Through College

One of the mile markers we use to measure KIPPsters’ progress towards a life of choice and opportunity is their enrollment in college. This year, over 14,000 KIPP alumni are enrolled in colleges across the country, including more than 4,000 at one of our 98 partner institutions and almost 1,800 at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Nearly 80 percent of KIPP alumni attend a college with at least 10 KIPPsters enrolled, encompassing 320 schools across the United States. And we are proud of the 4,000 KIPP alumni pursuing associates’ degrees at community colleges, as well as more than 100 KIPP alumni serving in the US Military. 

Here are the top 10 schools with the largest number of KIPP students enrolled in the current school year:

It is not a surprise to see a lot of schools from the great states of California and Texas. But I know many of you are wondering — what about schools in my state? And what about my alma mater? Well, you can see the list of every KIPP partner college, and every college with 10 or more KIPP alumni enrolled.

Learn more about where our KIPPsters are enrolled across the country.

Celebrating Milestones While Apart

These images of college and high school graduations represent years and years of hard work. It is so inspiring to see KIPPsters in some of our regions, like DC and Atlanta, holding virtual signing days; others, like Nashville and Texas, are doing drive-through graduations. And I could not help but share this amazing video of KIPP Texas’s socially-distanced cap and gown parade. I promise you will not regret taking two minutes from your day to watch this!

I’ll end today with words from Jordan Campbell, Salutatorian of KIPP Atlanta Collegiate’s Class of 2020:

The entire KIPP program laid a very strong foundation, and I ultimately feel more than prepared for the future. I am elated to announce that I will be continuing my education at the illustrious Xavier University of Louisiana majoring in chemistry on a pre-med track in hopes of becoming a pediatric anesthesiologist. Despite the unprecedented times, I have managed to remain positive by reminding myself to not forget about the past, but to focus on the present so that my future can play out exactly how I envision it.”