Richard Barth's Weekly Thoughts: Juneteenth

ByRichard Barth, KIPP Foundation CEO

Today is Juneteenth, commemorating the de facto end of slavery in the United States. As part of our commitment to honoring and grappling with America’s history, we stand with those calling for Juneteenth to be made a national holiday. Over on the KIPP Foundation blog, we have compiled a list of books on the history of Juneteenth for our staff and students. This is by no means an exhaustive resource, but we hope it will serve as a starting point for those who want to learn more.

On Wednesday, KIPP WAYS Academy social studies teacher Joseph Edelin was interviewed for NBC Nightly News: Kids Edition, as part of a story on Juneteenth. Click here to watch the full segment — Mr. Edelin is featured around the 5-minute mark!

KIPP’s Virtual Graduation Celebration

Our KIPP class of 2020 is closing out their high school careers this month, and we’re celebrating them in style—virtual-style! Please join us this Saturday, June 20th, for our national virtual graduation celebration. The celebration will take place on the KIPP Foundation’s Facebook page, starting at 3 PM Eastern time. We would love to have you all there!

Good News for Dreamers and the LGBTQ Community

We celebrate yesterday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program must remain in effect for now. While this is not the final word on DACA, it represents a huge reprieve for nearly 700,000 Americans, including many KIPP students, teachers, and family members. We stand with these brave individuals and their families, and we urge Congress to support them by creating a permanent pathway to citizenship. You can read KIPP’s statement on the DACA decision.

The Supreme Court also ruled this week in favor of career protections for LGBTQ Americans, prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. KIPP stands with all our LGBTQ community members, and we join with them to celebrate this step forward in the fight for equity and civil rights.

A Historic Donation to HBCUs

KIPP Foundation board member Reed Hastings and his wife Patty Quillin have announced a donation of $120 million to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The money will be split evenly among Morehouse College, Spelman College, and UNCF. This is the largest single individual gift ever for supporting scholarships at HBCUs, which will benefit students from all across the country. CBS News has the full story, including interviews with Reed Hastings; Morehouse president David Thomas; Spelman president Mary Schmidt Campbell; and UNCF president and CEO—and KIPP Foundation board member—Michael Lomax.

Future Engineer Teacher Awards

  This week, two of our KIPP computer science teachers got some much-deserved national recognition. Debbie Grashin from KIPP Columbus and Lynn Garnaat from KIPP DC were named the 2020 Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year Award! They are two of just ten teachers nationwide—selected from among thousands of applicants—to be recognized for their work preparing students from underrepresented backgrounds to succeed in computer science and STEM fields.

Along with their fellow award winners, Debbie and Lynn will each get a $50,000 prize package from Amazon to support their schools. This is divided into a $25,000 direct donation and an additional $25,000 in classroom supplies, including Amazon Fire tablets! The teachers themselves will each receive a one-year subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited and a 12-month Gold Gift Membership.

Watch Debbie and Lynn’s reactions to their colleagues visiting them at home (socially-distanced, of course!) to deliver the news, along with a box full of Amazon Future Engineer swag!

Goldberg Scholars Virtual Leadership Weekend

On June 12 and 13, the 2020 Goldberg Scholars met for a virtual Global Leadership Weekend. Although we were sad not to be able to convene in person, it was still a jam-packed weekend for our scholars. Over the two days, there were virtual wellness sessions each morning, as well as opportunities for participants to get to know one another; panel discussions and breakout sessions; and remarks from Sheryl Sandberg, Rob Goldberg, and myself.

Museum Of KIPP Art

Finally, I couldn’t resist sharing these beautiful images from our SoCal team’s Museum of KIPP Art (MOKA) fundraiser. Through a virtual art showcase and online auction, KIPP’s highly talented student artists raised over $138,000 to support our schools! Here are some of the artworks featured in the show:


“I wanted to create an artwork that represented unity, growth, and new beginnings. To display this, I digitally drew a woman as a tree figure and flowers to represent the new life growing around her.”

— Charity N., Alumna, KIPP Academy of Opportunity





Ribbon of Hope

“When I was making this art I thought of my aunt who had cancer. The different ribbons represent the varying terminal illnesses in the world. This piece was meant to represent how I have learned to embrace all my flaws, and see what’s beautiful about them.”

— Gabriela G., 8th Grade, KIPP LA Prep



“I made this art piece because during this crazy pandemic, a lot of families are getting closer together.”

— Melina M., 4th Grade, KIPP Iluminar