KU partnering with KIPP schools to increase college completion

Wed, 03/06/2013


Cody Howard
School of Engineering

LAWRENCE — A national network of open-enrollment, college-preparatory public charter schools, known as the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), will partner with the University of Kansas to increase college completion rates for underserved students from KIPP schools nationwide. In partnering with KIPP, KU hopes to recruit and enroll three qualified KIPP alumni in the School of Engineering each year, starting in fall 2014.

“This partnership will provide an outstanding opportunity for students to strengthen their skills and become future leaders while at KU. This collaboration with KIPP is an excellent example of how KU is committed to building communities and expanding opportunities – a key theme of the KU’s Bold Aspirations initiative,” said KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who will tour KIPP’s Houston flagship campus, KIPP Academy, today, March 6.

KU will provide strong academic and social support systems for KIPP alumni who enroll at the university. KU will also provide a range of opportunities and services for KIPP alumni including targeted recruiting and waiving application fees. Beginning this summer, the KU School of Engineering will also invite five to 10 rising KIPP 11th-graders to take part in its annual Summer Engineering Camp, at no cost to KIPP students. KIPP and KU will also partner to implement a mentoring program, known as College Ambassadors, aimed at increasing persistence of KIPP alumni at the university.   

“The School of Engineering is excited to partner with KIPP on this endeavor,” said Stan Rolfe, interim dean of engineering.  “These students will be involved in a field that’s key to strengthening the state’s and the nation’s economies.”

To support this partnership effort, Robert Peebler, a KU alumnus and member of KIPP Houston’s Board of Trustees, has contributed $250,000 to help KIPP alumni as they make their way toward graduation. Peebler is the retired executive chairman and former president and CEO of Houston-based ION Geophysical Corporation, which has offered a $250,000 matching contribution. The joint $500,000 gift to KU Endowment will fund a scholarship for KIPP alumni who enter the KU School of Engineering.

“One of the biggest challenges facing our nation is the education of our children in underprivileged and poor neighborhoods.  This demographic is the fastest-growing population in our nation, and if we don’t address this problem the economic and social consequences for the United States is dire,” Peebler said.  “KIPP not only champions excellent education in the classroom, but also builds character and accountability.  The program maintains a constant focus on the success of the children as measured through testing, and most importantly, through their success in graduating from high school and getting into college.”

Peebler said he views this gift as “seed capital” that will set the stage for expanding KIPP’s partnership with KU.

“I would like to parlay this into a much larger program, both for engineering and for scholarship programs at other KU Schools, with the School of Business as our first target.”

According to 2010 U.S. Census data, 31 percent of Americans aged 25-29 have earned a college degree. For students in the bottom economic quartile, only 11 percent complete college by their mid-20s. As of 2012, 40 percent of KIPP students had earned a four-year college degree after finishing eighth grade at a KIPP middle school 10 or more years ago. KIPP’s four-year college completion rate is above the national average for all students and more than three times the rate for students from low-income families nationwide. KIPP's goal is to reach a college completion rate that is comparable to that of the nation’s highest-income students.

“Partnering with KU is going to open doors for our students,” said Mike Feinberg, co-founder of KIPP. “Many of our KIPP students are budding engineers, and now – thanks to KU, Robert Peebler, and ION Geophysical – they will have a new opportunity to pursue their passion and maybe even change the world.”

Other KIPP university partners include Colby College (Waterville, Maine); University of Houston (Houston); Franklin and Marshall College (Lancaster, Pa.); San Jose State University (San Jose, Calif.); Mercy College (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.); Tulane University (New Orleans); Spelman College (Atlanta); Morehouse College (Atlanta); University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia); Duke University (Durham, N.C.); Davidson College (Davidson, N.C.); Notre Dame de Namur (Belmont, Calif.); Syracuse University (Syracuse, N.Y.); University of Texas at Austin (Austin, Texas); Texas State University (San Marcos, Texas); Houston Baptist University (Houston); Hunter College (New York); Georgetown University (Washington); Trinity Washington University (Washington), and Brown University (Providence, R.I.)

About KIPP

KIPP is a national network of open-enrollment, college-preparatory public charter schools with a track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life.  KIPP was founded in Houston in 1994 and has grown to 125 schools serving more than 41,000 students in 20 states and Washington, D.C. More than 95 percent of students enrolled in KIPP schools are students of color, and 85 percent qualify for the federal free- and reduced-price meals program.

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