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KIPP Houston Schools Extends Support to Children from Low-Income Families

By S. Mathur

A graduate from the KIPP Houston Public Schools summed it up best by saying, "The best choice my mother could have ever made for me was to attend KIPP."

KIPP Houston Public Schools is a tuition-free network of public charter schools in underserved communities across Houston. Lupita Montes Talley, Media Manager and KIPP Alumna, explains what truly makes KIPP different.

"KIPP was founded on the belief that ALL children will learn and that all deserve educational opportunities. Because many of our students are first generation college students, it is important to provide an education that supports our students all the way through the college process. From the very first day at KIPP every child knows the year they are going to college. We have built a culture where college is a natural next step after high school and not a luck of the draw."

KIPP stands for Knowledge Is Power Program, and the schools' mission is to "develop in underserved students the academic skills, intellectual habits, and qualities of character necessary to succeed at all levels of PreK -12 education, college, and the competitive world beyond". Talley says that without this support, the learning gap between children from low-income and wealthy families would continue to grow.

"Based on research, by the age of 3, children who come from low-income homes have a deficit of 30-million words when compared to children from our country's wealthiest homes."

KIPP provides the extra support kids from low-income families often need to succeed. This means involving families actively in their children's schooling, says Talley, "KIPP provides our families support in various ways. In elementary schools, parents attend workshops where they learn ways to reinforce what is taught at school. At the middle school level, we provide our students with different opportunities to experience new activities like robotics, photography and many other extra-curricular opportunities that children in low-income communities may not have available. Once they reach high school, our students visit colleges and participate in summer opportunities at universities and community organizations. The hard work pays off and 90% of our students, tracked from 8th grade, matriculate to college."

"KIPP emphasizes that success is hard work," says Talley. "To prepare our students for success in college, we teach 49% academics and 51% character development."

KIPP was founded in Houston in 1994 and has since grown to 183 public schools in 20 states and DC serving 70,000 children. KIPP Houston Public Schools is the largest region, with 24 public schools serving more than 12,500 students and an additional 1,000 alumni in college and beyond. While only eight percent of students from low-income communities across the nation graduate from college, KIPPsters achieve a 51 percent college graduation rate, tracking from the 8th grade.

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