KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) LA hosted an eye-opening event on Saturday, April 29th 2017 called “KIPP LA Parent Summit: Our Children Are College Bound.” The event’s goal was to get KIPP parents prepared for their children’s high school education and beyond.
KIPP LA is part of the nationwide KIPP network that has a 20 year history.
KIPP LA Schools, like all nationwide KIPP schools, are non-profit, tuition free charter schools within the LAUSD boundaries. KIPP LA schools receive public funding like traditional public schools and are required to be in compliance with LAUSD practices. They began operations in 2003 with two middle schools. In 2007, they launched expansion efforts in Los Angeles. Today, according to its website, KIPP LA currently operates 13 school in South and East Los Angeles, which include seven Elementary Schools and six Middle Schools. They serve nearly 5,000 underserved students. A whopping 91% of those students are from low-income families and are eligible for the federal free or reduced-price lunch and 99% are African-American or Latino. These schools are in high demand, and the organization hopes to have 20 schools in operation by 2020 and to be serving approximately 12,000 students.
KIPP has a very clear mission: to “teach the academic skills, foster the intellectual habits, and cultivate the character traits needed for our students to thrive in high school, college, and life.”
Even without having any high schools in the KIPP LA network, the main objective surpasses most expectations, to get each “KIPPster” to graduate college. KIPP LA is currently reporting a 73% persisting in or have graduated from college rate.
I joined the KIPP LA family this past fall when I enrolled my daughter for kindergarten. We applied to all seven elementary schools and crossed our fingers as we anxiously awaited the results of the lottery picks. KIPP schools are known to have heavy work loads and long days that typically run from 7:30 am until 4:00 pm, with one shortened day per week. Even with the challenges of a demanding school life, the positive merit performance is very attractive, especially for a parent whose only other neighborhood school is a traditional LAUSD school. I spent many nights worrying about the adjustment it would require of my young five-year old. I worried about how our new lives with a school aged-child would be affected because of the long hours and heavy work load, even in kindergarten. The first couple of months weren’t easy, but luckily she’s adjusted rather well. I’ve been enthralled to watch her grow academically so quickly and well beyond my expectations. KIPP schools have allowed students to grow academically while exposing them to art, music, and other extracurricular activities as part of the typical school day.
Events like the Parent Summer are taking place in an effort to increase the graduation rate and create even heavier involvement with and among parents. KIPP LA schools do not have any high schools and have no immediate plans to open any. In the meantime, KIPPsters must complete their K-12 education by attending one of the many high schools options in the vast LA area. As a product of a traditional high school, the idea of applying to high schools seems like such a foreign practice, but after attending the Parent Summit I’m feeling much more comfortable and feel much more empowered. The KIPP Family came off as tremendously caring, and I know that when the time comes that they will be there to assist not just to fill out applications and provide information but also to provide the necessary emotional and encouraging support.
The event also offered financial aid resources and had a panel of knowledge filled financial literacy organizations that gave invaluable tips on budgeting,saving, building wealth, and college savings accounts among other things.
The KIPP Parent Summit stressed the extensive work parents must go through to ensure their students continue their academic success at an amazing high school that will help students grow and gain acceptance to college. With the help of the KIPP LA family, I know that this organization will succeed in raising its 73% persisting in or have graduated from college rate.
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