Ever find yourself asking, “What did I learn from school all these years, and how did it prepare me for real life?” KIPP Foundation is amongst the first to answer that question for their students.

KIPP logoAmid many groundbreaking educational innovation happening around the globe, KIPP Foundation, stands for “Knowledge is Power Program”, implements its education reform across 162 schools in the United States. It is committed to positively impact economically under-served communities.

Children from lower income families are found to be more prone to fall behind in school and have higher dropout rates. This is in part due to economic status where they may be offered fewer opportunities throughout their early life. But it is also due to social bias where there is an assumption that children from marginalized communities are not meant to achieve at high levels. This may be more true in some countries than others, but it is a socioeconomic problem that exists globally.

In an effort to provide equal opportunities to all, KIPP says it best: “…[W]e are challenging this assumption in two ways: first, by transforming the lives of the students we serve in our growing network of schools; and second, by inspiring others to reconsider what is possible in public education.”

At KIPP, not only can students expect to achieve high levels in academics, they are expected to learn to build character. Through research, 7 character strengths are identified to be correlated with a happy and successful life:

  • Zest
  • Grit
  • Optimism
  • Self-control
  • Gratitude
  • Social Intelligence
  • Curiosity

To increase the number of college admissions for under-privileged students, the 7 identified character traits can help them go through college and into the competitive world. Teachers at KIPP are teaching character through hands-on classroom activities, simulations, encouragement, and character tracking report – a report card that tracks the students’ character growth. The results are startling. The number of KIPP students graduating from high school and college is 10-20% above the US average, and 20-30% above low-income average.

KIPP Stats

Source: KIPP Foundation

I think if you were a KIPP student, you could confidently answer the question posted at the beginning of this article, and it would be personal to you. Many are redefining public education to be more than academics and grades. Schools should be a safe place where our next generation can learn and grow, but learning focused only on paper knowledge does not necessarily equate to personal growth. KIPP’s motto is “Work hard. Be nice.”. If we are striving to strengthen our country through a robust economy and national security, then it must stem from local communities built by people who are hardworking, zealous, thankful, and peace-loving.

The KIPP spirit is doing great work in under-privileged communities, but I see a potential for more. Every community needs individuals who are kind and work hard – there is tremendous value to have similar programs in urban settings too. Let me know your thoughts and leave a comment below. To learn more about the KIPP Foundation and its work, visit their website.