Our Story

KIPP Delta History

KIPP Delta History

KIPP Delta’s story began in 2002 in Helena, Arkansas where we opened the doors of our first middle school, KIPP Delta College Preparatory School, to 65 students in fifth grade. Our goal was to graduate students with the strength of character and academic abilities needed to succeed in life – and in so doing, to prove what is possible in public education. We promised to do whatever was necessary to help our students succeed, and we asked them, and their parents, to make similarly rigorous commitments.

Sixteen years later, KIPP Delta is still making – and keeping – the same promises. KIPP Delta has grown to serve 1,400 students and over 200 alumni. We now have six schools serving the Helena, Blytheville, and Forrest City areas: KIPP Delta Elementary Literacy Academy, KIPP Delta College Preparatory School, KIPP Delta Collegiate High School, KIPP Blytheville College Preparatory School, KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High School, and KIPP Forrest City College Preparatory School.

The logo for KIPP Delta is a triangle, the fourth letter of the Greek alphabet and the mathematical symbol for change, with a river running through it. It was with this promise of change that we knocked on doors offering a new, and often unsought, path to college.



Celine Finley was the Class of 2017 valedictorian. Ms. Finley was accepted to 15 colleges and ultimately chose the University of Pennsylvania. “I just want to say thank you to all the faculty and staff at KIPP Delta for making my experience a memorable one. Also, to any student who has dreamed of success and achieving, KIPP is the pathway to that success.” Below is a portion of her valedictory speech:

To be black and alive is such a powerful thing, But to be black and educated is a sight to be seen. They said we were incapable of beating all of the odds, It was then we had to prove to them we were definitely without fraud. We were tongue-lashed by the naysayers who said we wouldn’t succeed, “There’s no way those black kids in Helena, Arkansas, will know how to write and read!” Until our scores came back and we showed them that African-American students in Helena can achieve. 

From the fertile Delta land, comes beautiful treasure, Like coal transformed under great pressure. At KIPP Delta we faced challenges, some harder to face than others, But if I could go back in time, I still would choose no other. Our time is winding down here, and I must confess, It has been one heck of a journey, and I’m sure everyone can attest. 

Before we close this chapter and move on to the next, I hope you’ll carry with you these things and add a little zest. Take with you your identity, for it’s the only one you have. That there is a time for work and there is a time for play. Whether you attend a PWI or HBCU, it doesn’t quite matter, As long as you achieve your goals, you will be the master. Don’t ever doubt your purpose for being where you are, Because instead of being idle, you chose to raise the bar. Take on all opportunities that give you the chance to flourish, And watch how you carry yourself, you never know who you’ll encourage. 

Classmates, here is what I want you to know: Your intelligence portrays what your skin color doesn’t show. Don’t let negative stereotypes fill you with frustrations, True liberation comes when we don’t succumb to their expectations. Being a black woman no longer needs to be put into question, Because the black woman I am represents cultural progression. I no longer have to ponder the thought of what being black means, Because being black does not stop me from achieving my dreams. We are the black scholars that proved the unexplainable, We are the living proof that anything you want in life is always attainable. Some will try and make you feel that being black is some kind of taboo, But we all know the truth is that they just want to be black and excellent like you! Congratulations to the Class of Two-Thousand Seventeen!

Hello, my name is Jervoire Hardin, and I’m proud to say my son Elijah is in his second year at KIPP Forrest City College Preparatory School. I’ve always wanted to be as involved as possible in my son’s life. Like Frederick Douglass said, “It’s easier to build a strong child than to fix a broken man. KIPP Forrest City sees this, and that’s why they are always inviting parents in and communicating what they need. They want us there to help. I’ve gotten involved by becoming the school photographer, organizing a dance, and planning pie-in-the-face day. I want to plan a carnival soon, too! I think being a male parental figure is something that is helpful for all the students.

I love that KIPP communicates with families and students about behavior and social skills. Elijah is learning strategies that will help him solve any problem that arises in his life. His teachers are teaching him to dig deep into the root of any problem he may have. I’m also just so impressed with the time KIPP teachers take to make sure students learn. They don’t rush! My wife and I appreciate that the teachers make sure all kids “get it.” KIPP Forrest City teachers look for proficiency and understanding, not just teaching.

I’ll admit I didn’t have high expectations in the beginning. But everything with the school has been awesome! Because I can talk to the staff, so much of my worry about the future has been erased. Every time I come up to KIPP, I can see Elijah reaching his goals. Thank you!

Evan and I met the first week of college at St. Michael’s College in Vermont. After college, we lived in Uganda. From there, Evan felt compelled to apply for Teach for America. I had studied KIPP in my education-focused psychology classes in college. Evan requested the Delta region, and five years later, it is our students and the Blytheville community that keep us here. 

During our time here, we wanted to take the students on an international service trip. We were met with nothing but enthusiasm from co-workers, managers, and parents. That support continues to motivate us to do more! 

We’ve each had different roles at KIPP Delta. For me, it was grant writing; for Evan it was straight in to teaching. Now we will both serve on the KIPP Through College team, as we are both drawn to hands-on time with students. KTC is a team that aims to improve educational opportunities for our students. As advisors, Evan and I hope to provide the type of college advising we didn’t get, and this is very rewarding. To see our students grow, and to play a role in increasing the breadth of their experiences, is a joy. Working with like-minded people who share in a common mission also helps you get through the tougher days. 

I feel the happiest when I get to share the things I love with the people I love. At KIPP, I get to do that every day. Here, ideas are encouraged! 

Mr. and Mrs. Evan Dewey were the recipients of this year’s Beyond Z award in Blytheville. The award honors staff, students, and families that have gone above and beyond to support the students at KIPP Delta.