Column: KIPP launching its first ATL elementary school

By Maria Saporta
Friday, January 27, 2012

KIPP Metro Atlanta — a charter school nonprofit organization that has been focused on middle school and high school students — will launch its first elementary school in July.

A $10 million capital campaign for the new KIPP Strive Primary school already has raised $8.5 million. It has received a $5 million challenge grant from the Kendeda Fund, and it recently received a $3 million donation from the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation — which is part of the Robert W. Woodruff family of foundations.

But in order to secure all of the Kendeda challenge grant, KIPP will need to raise another $1.5 million.

“We are just overwhelmed by the support we have received from both the Kendeda Fund and the Whitehead Foundation,” said David Jernigan, executive director of KIPP Metro Atlanta. “They are making a long-term investment in our students.”

KIPP Metro Atlanta already operates three middle schools and one high school within the Atlanta Public Schools system. (It also operates a fourth middle school — KIPP South Fulton Academy, which is outside the APS district).

Jernigan explained that KIPP (which stands for Knowledge is Power Program) had begun nationally as a middle school program serving students from fifth to eighth grades.

“We came to the realization that waiting to fifth grade was a little too late in closing the achievement gap,” Jernigan said.

By starting charter elementary schools, KIPP will offer students the opportunity to get a “seamless” education from kindergarten to high school graduation. In Atlanta, KIPP serves a population that is more than 90 percent African-American and 75 percent qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch program.

“Our ulitmate goal is college matriculation,” Jernigan said. “We will start in kindergarten working towards that vision. We set that expectation.”

The KIPP Strive Primary school will begin with 100 kindergarten students in July, and it will add a grade each year — ultimately serving 500 students. In July 2013, KIPP will open its second elementary school — KIPP Vision Primary; and plans are under way to add a third elementary school once its charter has been approved.

Currently, KIPP Metro Atlanta serves about 1,200 students. The goal is for it to operate eight schools serving 3,300 students by 2018.

The $10 million capital campaign will go toward constructing a new building on the same campus of the KIPP Strive Academy. It will include 20 classrooms, a media center, a music room, an art room, a computer lab, a science lab, a cafeteria and a kitchen.

ABL names 2012 officers

The Atlanta Business League held its annual “Installation Ceremony” of its 2012 officers and board on Jan. 24. But for the first time in the organization’s history, all its officers remained the same.

“In the past, our board chairs served for a year,” said Leona Barr Davenport, ABL’s president and CEO. “Now the automatic term is for two years. We felt it would allow more time for the implementation of an incoming chair’s goals.”

That means that Tommy Dortch, president and CEO of TWD Inc. and chairman emeritus of 100 Black Men of America, will remain as chair.

Mary Parker, president and CEO of All (n) 1 Security, is chair-elect. Contractor David Moody remains as past chair. Daryll Griffin, president of Accolades Inc., is secretary. And Lonnie Saboor, manager of small business and industrial finance for Invest Atlanta/Atlanta Development Authority, is treasurer.

Relay For Life

The Kroger Co. and the American Cancer Society are joining forces to raise awareness and funds to help fight cancer. During the two weeks beginning Sunday, Feb. 5, and continuing through Saturday, Feb. 18, Kroger will urge customers to donate to the American Cancer Society and purchase a $1 Relay for Life icon at checkouts.

“The American Cancer Society is thrilled for the opportunity to have generous support from Kroger’s customers and associates,” said Randy Redner, ACS’ vice president for Georgia. “Kroger knows cancer touches so many people and affects so many lives in the communities it serves.”

The program will include all the 215 stores in Kroger’s Atlanta Division — which incorporates stores in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and eastern Tennessee.

Funding playgrounds

Resurgens Charitable Foundation, established in 2001, recently announced that its donations to community programs have now totaled more than $750,000.

The foundation’s most recent gift helped finance a ramp for a Buford boy with cerebral palsy at Harmony Elementary School’s new playground.

Dr. Kay Kirkpatrick, president of the Resurgens Charitable Foundation and co-president of Resurgens Orthopaedics, said the foundation’s core mission of funding playgrounds so that children of all abilities can play together remains at the heart of all their projects.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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