The signed pledges, unusual in the competitive world of college admissions, set recruiting targets and establish a detailed framework for cooperation, seeking to create a pipeline to college for KIPP’s mostly black and Latino students.
There are no admissions guarantees or enrollment quotas for KIPP alumni, but the pacts suggest one path colleges could use to diversify at a time when racial affirmative action has come under question in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The agreements lay out an explicit quid pro quo: KIPP will promote the 20 colleges among its 39,000 students nationwide, and in exchange, the colleges will identify and recruit top KIPP students, help those who have financial need and ensure those who enroll stay on track to graduate.
Georgetown, in its agreement, pledged to “actively recruit 8 to 12 KIPP students per year.”Trinity Washington said it would “recruit, admit and enroll a cohort of KIPP alumni, targeting at least 10 students per year.” The universities now each have three students from KIPP.
Schools with similar KIPP agreements include Colby, Davidson, Spelman and Franklin & Marshall colleges; the universities of Pennsylvania and Texas at Austin; and Brown, Duke, Tulane and Syracuse universities.
“KIPP is a program we’ve long admired,” said Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. He said many Georgetown graduates work in KIPP schools. In recent years, the university has hosted summer academic programs for high school students from KIPP and the Cristo Rey urban Catholic education network.
Georgetown, the nation’s oldest Catholic university, also has a partnership with Cristo Rey schools. Formalizing one with KIPP, DeGioia said, was “a natural.”
But DeGioia said KIPP alumni would have no “leg up” in admissions at a university that accepts 18 percent of applicants. “If we are not certain they can be successful and competitive with the very best students we are admitting,” he said, “it would be dishonorable to bring them in.”
Daniel Porterfield, president of Franklin & Marshall, said his college hoped through such pacts to “identify extraordinary talent from the full American mosaic.”
KIPP officials say the pacts were inspired in part by initiatives such as the Posse Foundation, which seeks to place disadvantaged students in selective colleges.
KIPP, with 125 schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia, has forged a national brand by offering longer school days and years and a credo advocates sum up as “work hard, be nice.” The network says it takes “no shortcuts” in pursuing academic goals and makes “no excuses” for failure.