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University of Arkansas Partners with KIPP Schools to Increase Diversity, College Completion Rates

The University of Arkansas is partnering with the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Delta charter school network in Helena and Blytheville beginning in the fall 2014 semester. The partnership will bring qualified students from the KIPP schools to the Fayetteville campus and also make the KIPP schools available as a learning resource for U of A education students.

The KIPP Delta Public Schools program started with a fifth grade in 2002 and now serves more than 1,200 students in grades K-12 from underserved communities in Helena and Blytheville. Eighty-eight percent of these students are from low-income families. This year, KIPP Delta students met or exceeded Arkansas Benchmark averages on end-of-year state exams in 54% of tested areas and outperformed the local school district in 97% of tested areas.  KIPP Delta was also one of two districts recognized this year for outstanding growth on the Measures of Academic Progress test.

“The KIPP Delta program has achieved remarkable results in a very short time, and this partnership is a way to help the students move successfully from a high school program to the university level,” said Charles Robinson, U of A vice chancellor for diversity and community relations. “Most of KIPP’s students are first generation college students and face unique challenges, but the U of A is dedicated to addressing the challenges faced by first-generation college attendees. We are committed to bringing students from a diverse backgrounds to this campus, giving them a great education and providing the resources to help them succeed and graduate. KIPP Delta is a tremendous resource in the state of Arkansas, and we welcome the opportunity to work with these students.”

Robinson announced the memorandum of understanding agreement between KIPP and the U of A during a regularly scheduled visit by KIPP Delta seniors to the Fayetteville campus.

Under this agreement the U of A plans to recruit and enroll 5-7 KIPP alumni, starting in the 2014-15 school year. A grant from the Walton Family Foundation will enable the university to provide full financial support for up to 6 eligible students. The partnership also includes academic support services such as a College Ambassador program and work-study funding for students who mentor KIPP alumni at the U of A.

 “We are thrilled to partner with the University of Arkansas,” said Scott Shirey, founder and executive director of KIPP Delta. “The U of A has been a champion for our KIPPsters for a long time now, so this partnership is truly a celebration of our shared commitment to supporting KIPP students and alumni to and through college.”

KIPP Delta is part of a national network of 141 KIPP public charter schools in 20 states.  A report released this year by independent research firm Mathematica showed that KIPP middle schools nationwide are producing positive, significant and substantial achievement gains for students in all grades and four subjects—math, reading, science, and social studies. Mathematica researchers found that KIPP achieved these academic gains with students that entered middle school with lower achievement scores than their peers in neighboring district schools.

According to 2010 U.S. Census data, 33 percent of Americans aged 25-29 have earned a college degree. For students in the bottom economic quartile, only 10 percent complete college by their mid-20s. As of February 2014, 44 percent of KIPP students have earned a four-year college degree after finishing eighth grade at a KIPP middle school 10 or more years ago. KIPP’s college completion rate is above the national average for all students and four times the rate for students from low-income families nationwide. KIPP's goal is to reach a college completion rate that is comparable to that of the nation’s highest-income students.

The U of A joins a growing list of KIPP college partners, including Brown University, Duke University, Georgetown University, UC-Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania and Spelman College.  A complete list of KIPP’s college partners can be found at

About KIPP

KIPP – the Knowledge Is Power Program – is a national network of open-enrollment, college-preparatory public charter schools with a track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life.  KIPP was founded in Houston in 1994 and has grown to 141 schools serving more than 50,000 students in 20 states and Washington, D.C.  More than 95 percent of students enrolled in KIPP schools are African American or Latino, and 86 percent qualify for the federal free and reduced-price meals program.

About University Arkansas

The University of Arkansas, located in Fayetteville, is the flagship institution of the University of Arkansas System and the premier research institution in the state. It was founded in 1871 as Arkansas’ land-grant institution, with the three-fold mission of teaching, research and public service. The U of A offers more than 200 baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral, professional and specialist degree programs, and has an enrollment of more than 25,000 students. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching categorizes the University of Arkansas in its highest research classification, a level that only 2 percent of American colleges and universities share. Visit its website at



Steve Voorhies, manager, media relations

University Relations


PDF icon UofA Partnership Announcement.pdf

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