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Walton Family Foundation donating $25.5 million to KIPP Foundation

By Maria Saporta

The Walton Family Foundation announced today that it is investing $25.5 million in the KIPP Foundation over the next five years with the goal of doubling the number of students who attend the public charter schools across the country.

The grant will help families of 59,000 students attend KIPP’s schools by 2015. It also will assist the KIPP network’s goal to increase its college completion rates.

Since the KIPP Foundation’s inception, KIPP has grown to a national network of 109 public charter schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia. During the 2011-2012 school year, KIPP is planning to serve 32,000 disadvantaged students from urban and rural neighborhoods.

In Atlanta, the KIPP Foundation has the KIPP South Fulton Academy serves about; the KIPP WAYS (West Atlanta Young Scholars) Academy in Northwest Atlanta; KIPP STRIVE (Success Through Rigorous Instruction Virtue & Enrichment) Academy in the West End area; the KIPP Vision Academy in the Southeast area of Atlanta; and the KIPP Atlanta Collegiate High School — the organization’s first high school in Atlanta.

“We are honored and grateful that the Walton Family Foundation has made this catalytic investment,” said Richard Barth, CEO of the KIPP Foundation, in a statement. “Thanks to their support, we will be able to double the number of students we serve over the next five years while continuing to foster a culture of continuous improvement and sustainability in our schools.”

The Walton Family Foundation investment will help KIPP grow from serving 27,000 students in the 2010-2011 school year to 59,000 students in 2015-2016 school year. The grant will help KIPP expand to serve more students and will support KIPP’s efforts to train more than 750 educators to open new KIPP charter schools as well as to take on increased leadership roles within existing schools.

The investment also will support national advocacy, professional development for teachers, knowledge sharing, and research and data initiatives to help ensure quality and sustainability across the national KIPP network.

The grant will not directly fund operations for any KIPP schools. Each KIPP region operates independently and is responsible for additional fundraising to support its own operations and regional growth initiatives.

“Through our investment in KIPP, the Walton Family Foundation seeks to expand the high-performing school options available to low-income parents,” said Jim Blew, who leads the foundation’s K-12 Education Reform efforts, in a statement. “KIPP wants to make a deeper and broader impact in the communities it serves, and we welcome the opportunity to help.”

Blew also said that “KIPP has an established track record of creating public charter schools of excellence in low-income communities, and there is growing evidence that traditional public school systems are striving to replicate KIPP’s successes.”

The Walton Family Foundation investment will also help strengthen KIPP’s efforts to support alumni on the path to and through college. By 2015, KIPP expects to have 10,000 alumni enrolled in college.

KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) was created in Houston in 1994 by Teach For America alumni Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin. Feinberg and Levin founded the first two KIPP schools in Houston and the South Bronx in 1995. The non-profit KIPP Foundation was established in 2000 in partnership with Doris and Donald Fisher, cofounders of the Gap Inc.

Its mission is to recruit, train and support educators to open KIPP schools in underserved communities across the United States. More than 95 percent of students enrolled in KIPP schools are African-American or Hispanic/Latino, and more than 80 percent qualify for the federal free and reduced-price meals program. To date, more than 85 percent of the students who have graduated from KIPP middle schools have gone on to college.

Since 2002 and prior to this investment, the Walton Family Foundation has invested more than $32 million to help KIPP grow into the nation’s largest high-performing charter school network. This is the largest single investment that the Walton Family Foundation has made to the KIPP Foundation to date.

Maria Saporta

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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