Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history of KIPP?

KIPP began in 1994 when two teachers, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, launched a fifth-grade public school program in inner-city Houston, TX, after completing their commitment to Teach For America. In 1995, Feinberg established KIPP Academy Middle School in Houston, while Levin returned home to New York City to establish KIPP Academy Middle School in the South Bronx. These two original KIPP Academies quickly became among the highest performing public schools in their communities.

In 2000, Feinberg and Levin partnered with Doris and Don Fisher, the founders of The Gap, to establish the KIPP Foundation, focused on replicating the success of the original KIPP Academies on a national scale.

In 2001, KIPP added another school in Houston and expanded to Washington, D.C. and Gaston, NC. Today, there are 200 KIPP schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia educating nearly 80,000 students on their path to and through college, careers, and life.


What is a charter school?

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools and enrollment is open to all students. They are independently operated schools that run with more flexibility than traditional public schools in exchange for increased accountability.

The “charter” that establishes each school is a contract detailing the school’s mission, program, performance goals, and methods of assessment. Every public charter school has an authorizer which, subject to state law, may be a district school board, university, Mayor’s office, or non-profit organization. Authorizers are responsible for holding charter schools accountable for compliance with their operating agreements or “charters.”

Like all public schools, charter schools are:

  • Tuition-free and part of the free public school system
  • Held to state and federal academic standards
  • Open to all students, including those with disabilities
  • Funded primarily through a combination of federal, state, and local tax dollars
  • Not affiliated with or restricted to a particular religious group

All KIPP schools are public charter schools. And yet, not all public charter schools are like KIPP. KIPP is a non-profit network of 200 college-preparatory, public charter schools educating early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school students.


Who attends KIPP schools?

KIPP schools are open-enrollment public schools, serving primarily low-income and minority students. Nationally, more than 88 percent of KIPP students are eligible for the federal free or reduced-price meals program, 17% are designated as English Language Learners, and 96 percent are African-American or Latino.


What is KIPP’s curriculum?

KIPP schools follow the same state and federal curriculum standards as other public schools. Each KIPP region operates autonomously, so teachers and principals have the freedom to adapt the curriculum to create customized, innovative lessons that best meet students’ needs. With its extended school day, there is more time for rich learning experiences, extracurricular activities, and field lessons.

What do we know about the gains that students make at KIPP?

The 2010 Mathematica report concluded that that KIPP schools typically have a positive, statistically significant, and educationally substantial impact on student achievement. Over a three-year period, researchers found that academic impacts were equivalent to 1.2 and 0.9 years of additional instruction in math and reading, respectively.


Are KIPP students going on to earn college degrees?

According to U.S. Census data, only 30 percent of all Americans aged 25-29 have earned a four-year college degree. For students whose families are in the bottom economic quartile, only 8 percent hold a four-year college degree by their mid-20s.

By contrast, 44 percent of KIPP students who finished eighth grade at KIPP ten or more years ago have completed a four-year college degree. This rate is higher than the average for all students across all income levels nationwide, and four times the college completion rate of students from low-income communities.


Are there admissions requirements at KIPP schools?

There is no application or selection process to enroll at KIPP. Any student can attend a local KIPP school, as long as they meet the residency requirements of the local school district and there is space available at their grade level.

Each school holds a random lottery to determine admission if the number of student applicants is greater than the number of spaces available. All students who apply after the date of the lottery are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis, regardless of socioeconomic background or academic record.


What is the experience and background of a typical KIPP teacher?

KIPP teachers are the heart and soul of KIPP schools. There are currently more than 4,000 KIPP teachers nationwide, and each shares the fundamental belief that all children can and will learn. KIPP teachers are a diverse group, including experienced teachers who have worked in schools with students from educationally underserved communities, new teachers who are just beginning their careers, and career changers who are entering the classroom after succeeding in another profession. Across our network, nearly 37 percent of our teachers are African-American or Latino, about 33 percent are Teach For America alumni, and more than 32 percent hold master’s degrees.