The Knowledge is Power Program, is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools dedicated to preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life. There are currently 209 KIPP schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia serving more than 50,000 students.
KIPP builds a partnership among parents, students, and teachers that puts learning first. By providing outstanding educators, more time in school, and a strong culture of achievement, KIPP is helping all students climb the mountain to and through college.
Every day, KIPP students across the nation are proving that demographics do not define destiny. Over 86 percent of KIPP students are from low-income families and eligible for the federal free and reduced-price meals program, and 95 percent are African American or Latino. Nationally, more than 93 percent of KIPP middle school students have gone on to college-preparatory high schools, and over 83 percent of KIPP alumni have gone on to college.
The Partnership HIstory
In the spring of 2007, seventeen carefully selected and trained Plan II students embarked on a mentoring partnership with KIPP (“Knowledge is Power Program”) Austin College Prep, a local middle school serving primarily low-income and minority students in Austin. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas facilitated matching each Plan II student with a “KIPPster” in an effort to form lasting bonds between mentor and mentee.
KIPP Austin was established to meet the needs and desires of the East Austin community, where a lack of opportunity has traditionally impeded the path to college for the area's young people. KIPP strives to instill in its students a passion for academic success and an understanding that college is an attainable and valuable goal. Each Plan II mentor encourages this message through weekly trips to visit his/her mentee at KIPP and periodic group trips to the school. In addition to their mentoring relationship, Plan II students also become deeply immersed in issues related to equality of educational opportunity (or lack thereof) for historically underserved students and in the KIPP model as a demonstrably effective strategy for addressing such issues.
Engagement at Plan II
While its primary focus is on the mentoring partnership with KIPP, the course is part of a broader effort known as Plan II Praxis, whose goal is the development of a multifaceted, model program for civic engagement and service at Plan II.
In the service of this goal, it is our hope and intent that Plan II's partnership with KIPP can serve as a model for the development of additional Plan II partnerships with other organizations, addressing other service-related issues, opportunities and needs. What develops in this process can serve as an inspiration and resource to the broader student community at Plan II and UT, and perhaps as a model to other colleges and universities, as well.
A growing Partnership
In addition to the original mentoring partnership with KIPP Austin College Prep, the Plan II-KIPP partnership has grown to include a variety of other opportunities for Plan II students to serve the Austin community through volunteering at local KIPP schools. These "Plan II/KIPP 2.0" programs provide volunteers for other KIPP Austin campuses. Volunteer options include PlanTutoring at KIPP: Austin Collegiate (KAC) high school, which provides assistance to juniors and seniors writing university admissions and scholarship essays, and a mentoring partnership with KIPP Austin Academy of Arts and Letters (KAL), a KIPP middle school that strives to foster positive gains for students through extensive curricula in the arts. These options have a brief course component, consisting of six sessions over the course of a Plan II student's first semester in the programs. The course strives to provide some context on KIPP and the surrounding educational climate. Such context will help Plan II students be better tutors and mentors to their "KIPPsters," as well as answer questions they may have after seeing and experiencing a KIPP campus for the first time.