KIPP charter school coming to St. Louis with WUSTL’s help

Washington University will serve as institutional sponsor of the St. Louis area’s first-ever KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) charter school, announced Greg Wendt, organizer of St. Louisans United to Attract KIPP. The school is scheduled to open in fall 2009.

KIPP, a network of free, college-preparatory public schools in under-resourced communities throughout the United States, has been recognized for its success in putting students on the path to college; nearly 80 percent of KIPP alumni have matriculated to college. Like all Missouri charter schools, the KIPP school will be a public school, open to any student who lives in the City of St. Louis.

“Along with our existing outreach programs, sponsorship of this charter school is one of many opportunities for Washington University to have a positive influence on public, K-12 education in the St. Louis region,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “The success of KIPP Foundation schools throughout the country is in line with the University’s own tradition of excellence and makes KIPP an ideal partner for this endeavor.

“The educational success of young people in our region is critical to the future of our University and our community,” Wrighton said.

Officials with the KIPP Foundation expressed their enthusiasm for this new partnership.

“Washington University, one of the country’s elite institutions of higher education, shares KIPP’s commitment to closing the achievement gap in public education,” said Mikelle Willis, KIPP director of new site development. “We are pleased to partner with the University as we bring KIPP’s unique program to St. Louis.”

Both Henry S. Webber, executive vice chancellor for administration, and Edward F. Lawlor, Ph.D., dean of the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, will lead the University’s sponsorship efforts.

“KIPP has demonstrated a high level of success with its innovative approach to providing a high-quality public education in communities throughout the United States,” Webber said. “We are excited to serve as a sponsor and partner with KIPP to help the University make a difference to area children. This partnership is one — but only one — way in which Washington University can help ensure that all children in the St. Louis area have an opportunity to get a first-class education.”

The University expects to have significant involvement in the success of this new school. Specific details of this collaboration continue to be discussed, but there likely will be many opportunities for staff and faculty to support the success of this school.

The first KIPP public school will serve grades 5-8 and will open with approximately 80 students chosen through a lottery system. All KIPP middle schools start with fifth grade and add one grade per year until becoming a fifth-through-eighth grade public middle school. The location of the school has not been determined, but it will be in the City of St. Louis.

KIPP schools differ from a typical school in many ways. One significant difference is the amount of time a student spends in school. Both students and teachers arrive no later than 7:30 a.m. and stay until 5 p.m. on weekdays. They also come in every other Saturday and for three to four weeks during the summer.

In addition, in order for a child to attend a KIPP school, the student, the student’s parents or guardians and the student’s teacher must sign a “Commitment to Excellence” learning pledge, in which each party promises to do whatever it takes to help the student learn.

Currently, more than 14,000 students are enrolled in 57 KIPP schools located in 17 states and Washington, D.C. More than 80 percent of KIPP students nationwide are low-income, and more than 90 percent are African-American or Hispanic. To learn more about KIPP schools, visit

The KIPP sponsorship is one of many of the University’s efforts to positively impact schools and children in the St. Louis area. Among other programs are:

Each One Teach One (EOTO). This program connects tutors from WUSTL with area school children in need of support through both EOTO Jump Start and EOTO College Bound. Jump Start tutors work with elementary school students from St. Louis Public Schools; College Bound partners with a local nonprofit organization also called College Bound that aims to give promising, motivated, under-resourced high-school students the academic capacity, social support and life skills necessary to succeed at a four-year college.

Early Elementary Education Lesson Study Project. WUSTL staff, in partnership with the Saint Louis Zoo, provide kindergarten through second-grade teachers in four St. Louis urban elementary schools with resources and assistance in developing science curriculum as well as coaching and mentoring them in delivering science units to the classroom.

The project is organized through the University’s Department of Education in Arts & Sciences and funded by a National Science Foundation grant.

Metro High School students assemble hydrogen fuel cells to power model cars as part of WUSTL’s Science Outreach program.

Science Outreach. This program sponsors a series of graduate courses for K-8 teachers through the Department of Education and a master’s degree program for high-school teachers through the Department of Biology, both in Arts & Sciences.

Major support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation has made it possible for Science Outreach to build partnerships with public schools.

Programs help teachers use methods and materials proven effective through educational research. In 2006-07, Science Outreach courses, programs, lab materials and classroom support impacted more than 1,570 K-12 teachers and 35,300 students.

Service First. Founded in 1999 and held every year on the Saturday before Labor Day, this program involves more than 1,000 students, staff and faculty members who volunteer with the St. Louis Public Schools to help brighten schools for the children through painting and other “sprucing-up” work.

WUSTL YMCA. The largest community service organization on campus, the WUSTL Y offers an abundance of opportunities for students to work directly with schoolchildren in the St. Louis area. YMCA groups include the Greg Delos Y-Tutor program, the ARIS After School program, Spotlight on Youth, Catalyst, Picture the Future and many more.

Center for Inquiry in Science, Teaching and Learning (CISTL) St. Louis Regional Database Project. Accessed through an interactive Web site (, the database includes information about students, teachers, schools and communities in the St. Louis area.

Its purpose is to make data available on a regional basis and allow educators, researchers, community leaders and parents to research how students are performing in science as a region or group of districts or schools and make more informed, data-driven decisions.

Wellston Summer School Program. For this program, Washington University works with the Wellston School District to assist rising high-school seniors in several key concentrations, including credit recovery, ACT preparation, postsecondary education exploration, introduction to university life and the development of leadership and communication skills.