KIPP/Plan II Honors Partnership (TC 126)
Work hard. Be nice.
KIPP, the Knowledge is Power Program, is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools dedicated to preparing student in underserved communities for success in college and in life. There are currently 141 KIPP schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia serving more than 50,000 students.
KIPP builds a partnership among parents, students, and teachers that puts learning first. By providing outstanding educators, more time in school learning, and a strong culture of achievement, KIPP is helping all students climb the mountain to and through college.
Every day, KIPP students across the nation are proving that demographics do not define destiny. Over 86 percent of KIPP students are from low-income families and eligible for the federal free and reduced-price meals program, and 95 percent are African American or Latino. Nationally, more than 93 percent of KIPP middle school students have gone on to college-preparatory high schools, and over 83 percent of KIPP alumni have gone on to college.
The KIPP-Plan II Partnership History:
In the spring of 2007, seventeen carefully selected and trained Plan II students embarked on a mentoring partnership with KIPP (“Knowledge is Power Program”) Austin College Prep, a local middle school serving primarily low-income and minority students in Austin. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas facilitated matching each Plan II student with a “KIPPster” in an effort to form lasting bonds between mentor and mentee.
KIPP Austin was established to meet the needs and desires of the East Austin community where a lack of opportunity has traditionally impeded the path to college for the area's young people. KIPP strives to instill in its students a passion for academic success and an understanding that college is an attainable and valuable goal. Each Plan II mentor encourages this message through weekly trips to visit his/her mentee at KIPP and periodic group trips to the school. In addition to their mentoring relationship, Plan II students also become deeply immersed in issues related to equality of educational opportunity (or lack thereof) for historically underserved students, and in the KIPP model as a demonstrably effective strategy for addressing such issues.
Grant Thomas is a career educator whose major focus for the past 30+ years has been on systematic strategies for youth empowerment and service. He started the original PAL (Peer Assistance and Leadership) Program in Austin ISD in 1980, and guided its growth into a national model peer-mentoring program that has been implemented by hundreds of school districts throughout Texas and the nation. In 1994 he established YouthLaunch, an Austin-based youth empowerment nonprofit, and served as its Executive Director for nine years. A former board member of the National Association of Peer Programs, he also served for many years on the boards of both YouthLaunch and KIPP Austin. His educational background includes a B.A. from Princeton, magna cum laude (1967); an Ed. M. from Harvard (1974); and four years of graduate study in educational psychology at UT (1976-80).
The Course in Context: A Model Program for Civic Engagement at Plan II
While its primary focus is on the mentoring partnership with KIPP, the course is part of a broader effort known as Plan II Praxis, whose goal is the development of a multifaceted, model program for civic engagement and service at Plan II.
In the service of this goal, it is our hope and intent that Plan II's partnership with KIPP can serve as a model for the development of additional Plan II partnerships with other organizations, addressing other service-related issues, opportunities and needs. What develops in this process can serve as an inspiration and resource to the broader student community at Plan II and UT, and perhaps as a model to other colleges and universities as well.
Plan II – KIPP: A Growing Partnership
In addition to the original mentoring partnership with KIPP Austin College Prep, the Plan II – KIPP partnership has grown to include a variety of other opportunities for Plan II students to serve the Austin community through local KIPP schools. These “Plan II/KIPP 2.0” services allow Plan II students who may not be enrolled in the university- sponsored (TC 126) course to serve as volunteers on other KIPP Austin campuses. These volunteer options include PlanTutoring @ KIPP: Austin Collegiate (KAC), which provides college-prep and ACT tutoring, as well as a budding writing center, to students in KAC, KIPP Austin's original high school; and a mentoring partnership with KIPP Austin Academy of Arts and Letters (KAL), a KIPP middle school that strives to foster positive gains for students through extensive curricula in the arts. Additional volunteer services at other KIPP Austin campuses are also under consideration.