The University will partner with the Knowledge is Power Program, a network of charter schools, following a $2.5 million donation from Bruce and Martha Karsh P'14 that will aid KIPP alums at Brown through increased academic and financial support. The partnership will focus not only on preparing underserved students for college, but also on providing the resources necessary to complete college.
"Brown and KIPP will develop programs, projects and activities that will address college-persistent challenges for scholarship students," said Bill Layton, executive director of Brown's Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations.
After KIPP contacted former president Ruth Simmons about a possible partnership, Layton said he researched KIPP's compatibility with Brown. "We wanted to use the KIPP partnership and the support from the Karshes to support, leverage and expand upon existing really good programs that Brown has for scholarship students already," he said.
The Karshes have donated a total of $10 million in support of KIPP and its alums: $2.5 million to Brown, $2.5 million to Penn and $5 million to Duke University. Brown is the 18th university to partner with KIPP, which comprises 125 open-enrollment public charter schools across the country.
With the $2.5 million donation, Brown's endowment now includes a KIPP Scholarship Fund. The donation will support a main financial aid fund and three smaller funds to support KIPP students who want to conduct research projects, pay for emergency trips and laptop repairs and finance KIPP students who want to experience Brown through a pre-college summer program at the University, respectively.
The gifts are intended to help further KIPP's mission of increasing college completion rates by focusing on five factors: academic readiness, character strengths like optimism and self-control, finding the right match between the student and college, integrating social life and academics and college affordability, said Steve Mancini, KIPP's director of public affairs. Some of these resources include application fee waivers, mentorship programs and research support.
President Christina Paxson's support played a key role in the formation of the KIPP partnership. "She's been emphasizing financial aid as a top priority for everyone to work on across Brown. ... She said right away when she started at Brown that cost should not be a barrier for those students who come to Brown," Layton said.
"We're grateful to her leadership, her vision and her commitment to helping kids regardless of their background," Mancini said, adding that her devotion to Brown's "diverse and academically excellent" student body made the partnership possible.
The partnership helps identify students from KIPP schools who have the potential to succeed in Brown's environment but does not promise admission to Brown for KIPP alums. "It helps recruit and expand the channel of possible scholarship students," Layton said.
"The academic standards that KIPP holds, I wouldn't have been able to find that at any other school in my area," said Danielle Phan '16, who attended KIPP Heartwood Academy, a KIPP middle school in San Jose, Calif. Her first visit to Brown was through a "KIPP trip," she said, adding that she is still in contact with her KIPP adviser, a valuable resource for questions she has regarding college or internships. "It changed my outcome and the opportunities I was given," Phan said, adding that KIPP is "a place where being smart was cool."