KIPP, the largest network of public charter schools in the country, is expanding its footprint in the Bronx with two new schools coming to Community Board 7.
KIPP Elements Primary School, 338 East 146th Street and KIPP All Middle School, 2502 Lorillard Place, will be relocated to 1504 Macombs Rd. and a new K-8 school is planned for 2720 Jerome Ave., both of which will open in 2021-22 at temporary sites.
Mariela Meza, associate director of advocacy at KIPP and Jane Martinez Dowling, KIPP chief external affairs officer, spoke to the CB7 Education Youth and Libraries Committee on Nov. 4 about this expansion. KIPP, which has been in the Bronx for 26 years, has schools that are 99 percent people of color. Additionally, 65 percent of its staff are people of color and its alumni graduate at four times the national rate of low-income students.
“Not only am I a Bronx native, but I went to KIPP when it only had one school in the south Bronx,” Meza said.
Meza told the attendees how KIPP changed her life. She had just moved here from Mexico and struggled in her first school. However, when she enrolled at KIPP, Meza felt welcome and at home.
“When I landed at KIPP, my parents were looking for something different for me,” she recalled.
Martinez Dowling explained that KIPP is not the typical school experience. The middle and high schools offer numerous advanced placement classes, robotics, theater, visual arts, graphic design, athletics and stress college readiness.
Also, science is introduced in elementary school, instead of middle school.
In 2019, KIPP NYC surveyed families and found that 94.6 percent felt a sense of belonging in their school community, 89 percent felt like they had strong relationships with their teachers, 92 percent felt proud that their child attended KIPP and 91 percent would recommend KIPP to other families.
Both buildings are in the construction phase and should be complete by 2023. Demolition will begin at Macombs Road in December and in the spring for Jerome Avenue.
Last year, there were 2,600 applicants for 500 spots at KIPP Freedom at 2264 Jerome Ave., which Martinez Dowling said was a key factor in the expansion.
“We plan to replicate what has worked well for us,” Meza said.