As part of its ongoing effort to admit and graduate more Pell-eligible students, Washington University in St. Louis has announced it will provide a free or low-cost undergraduate education to any admitted alumni of KIPP, a nationwide network of charter schools that serves low-income students.
The KIPP College Partnership will connect Washington University to bright, young minds across the country, create a more diverse student body and deepen ties with KIPP St. Louis, which educates 1,200 students at its two elementary and two middle schools. Washington University is KIPP St. Louis’ public charter school sponsor.
“KIPP is an organization that understands the importance of academic rigor, but it also understands the importance of developing character, aspirations and a love of learning,” said Ronné P. Turner, vice provost for admissions & financial aid. “Its culture of community spirit and collaboration aligns perfectly with Washington University values.”
As a KIPP College Partner, Washington University will cover a student’s full demonstrated need and will provide support, mentoring and resources. Washington University also will fund, based on a student’s need, recruitment visits and enrollment in its High School Summer Scholars Program, where qualified students can earn up to seven hours of college credit.
KIPP St. Louis public charter schools will serve both as certified work study sites for Washington University students and teaching residency sites for education students.
The partnership is the latest university initiative to serve under-resourced and first-generation students.
This summer, Leah Merrifield, associate vice chancellor for Community Engagement, announced the College Prep Scholarship for admitted graduates of Washington University’s College Prep Program, a multiyear program that prepares under-resourced and first-generation students from the St. Louis area for life on a college campus. in addition, Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University, is on track to raise at least $400 million in new scholarship dollars.
Anthony Tillman, assistant provost for student success, joined Washington University in July to support the university’s growing number of Pell-eligible students, which has grown from 6 percent of incoming students in 2013 to 13 percent this year.
In just three months, Tillman has introduced a new four-year cohort program called Deneb STARS that focuses on scholarship, leadership and service. And he is developing other initiatives to meet a range of goals from providing students the resources necessary to get the full Washington University experience to developing better tools to identify struggling students.
“KIPP students come from a culture of excellence so we know that they can succeed academically,” Tillman said. “But we also must put an infrastructure in place that guarantees that they have a good transition and that they have opportunities to maximize their potential.”
The KIPP College Partnership is one of many ways Washington University supports KIPP in St. Louis. In addition to serving as KIPP’s public charter school sponsor, university experts offer professional development and curriculum support through the Institute for School Partnership; a student practicum through the Brown School; and undergraduate student tutoring through Each One, Teach One, a signature program of the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement.
First-year student Karina Carcamo is one such volunteer, as well as a KIPP alum from Houston, Texas. She is thrilled that Washington University is a KIPP College Partner and looks forward to mentoring incoming “Kippsters.”
“KIPP is a family,” said Carcamo, who attended a KIPP middle school. “Because we had to work so hard, we have a special bond. But we also believe that we can do anything.”
That’s what Kelly Garrett, executive director of KIPP St. Louis, tells his students every day. He said the partnership is yet another important milestone.
“This partnership is an exciting way to build on the strong foundation we’ve built over the past eight years with Washington University here in St. Louis,” Garrett said. “Washington University is nationally recognized for educational excellence, and is largely responsible for KIPP opening in St. Louis. We are grateful that we will be able to work hand-in-hand to ensure our students make it not only to college, but through college.”