The expansion is the result of an unusual tactic that the network once known as the Knowledge Is Power Program has developed to help its students get into and through college. Starting in October 2011, KIPP and college leaders signed pledges to create recruiting pipelines and campus support systems for students who often lack the higher-education connections routinely found in affluent communities.
The agreements that KIPP has signed with 39 colleges and universities contain no admission guarantees. But they do, in many cases, set recruiting goals, such as at Penn, which pledged to recruit 12 to 15 KIPP graduates each year.
Georgetown University, which announced a KIPP agreement in November, said it aims to actively recruit eight to 12 KIPP graduates a year. Its results for the incoming class: Four admitted, two enrolled.
This year, Syracuse and Trinity Washington universities also will enroll at least eight KIPP graduates each, Franklin & Marshall College six and Davidson College four. Colby College and Duke University will enroll two each. San Jose State University will enroll 34, KIPP said, well exceeding its recruiting target of 15 to 20.
The KIPP effort is one of many that works to help disadvantaged students get into college at a time when experts say too few have access. Among others are nonprofit programs such as QuestBridge and the Posse Foundation. But it is notable that KIPP has obtained written recruiting agreements from numerous colleges, including some of the most prestigious.
“We’re excited to see life breathed into our college partnerships,” said KIPP co-founder Mike Feinberg, a graduate of Penn. “KIPP students are applying, getting accepted, and matriculating to our partner colleges and universities. Next steps will be to figure out how to increase not just acceptances but matriculation, and also how to ensure we are maximizing our partnerships to help our alumni stay in college and graduate.”
The alumni are defined as students who went through a KIPP middle school or graduated from a KIPP high school. The network, with 41,000 students, operates far more middle schools than high schools, but it tracks and advises former middle school students as they move through high school.
Ninety-five percent of KIPP students are black or Latino, and more than 86 percent come from low-income families.
Studies show students in poverty have a more difficult time getting into selective colleges. Often, they don’t apply even if their transcripts are strong.
“There is a huge need,” said Lindsey E. Malcom-Piqueux, an assistant professor of higher education administration at George Washington University. “Colleges are even more challenged to get economic diversity than racial and ethnic diversity.”