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Notes from the Delta - October 2013 Newsletter

From the Executive Director

Prior to the beginning of the school year, our leadership team came to a consensus on five goals that will set the fundamental long range direction for our schools. These goals make it clear where we will concentrate resources in order to get the desired results. This month, I want to highlight two goals which represent priority areas for us and how you can help achieve our aims.

First, KIPP Delta aims to increase its financial sustainability. Let me begin by celebrating the tremendous success of our Prove the Possible Gala at the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock earlier this month. It was an absolutely terrific evening of student performances, speeches, and commemorations – a display to our friends and supporters that we truly are "proving the possible" in the Delta. In total, we raised over $100,000 through sponsorships, ticket sales, gifts and pledges! We also announced the official launch of our Capital Campaign, which is targeted toward the construction of a desperately needed kindergarten wing expansion and playground for our elementary school. The goal is to raise $1.3 million, and with your support we can break ground this school year.  Even more exciting, all donations up to $500,000 will be matched thanks to one of our most generous supporters, Wally McCloskey of Norac Inc. Please visit our website for more information on how you can help us build a better tomorrow today! 

Next, KIPP Delta is focused on attracting and retaining top talent. We continue to recruit for several positions and we encourage all friends and supporters to broadcast widely within their network. The Finance Director position is an ideal opportunity for an experienced finance professional who is passionate about providing all students with a quality education and who is energized by KIPP’s commitment to proving the possible in rural education. Additionally, we are actively seeking strong leadership for our schools in Blytheville - both a founding elementary School Director and a future successor School Director. The middle School Director will lead the charge at KIPP Blytheville College Preparatory School as our founding School Director transitions to lead the future high school. To learn more about these or any of our open positions, visit KIPP Delta Careers or email .

I hope you all have an excellent month and stay tuned next month for more updates on the status of our goals!

Scott Shirey
Executive Director


Prove the Possible

The Prove the Possible Gala was a great success.  Over 200 friends and supporters gathered on October 3 at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock to celebrate students who are proving the possible in public education.  Guests enjoyed rousing speeches by four KIPP Delta students: Shadijah Jackson, Class of 2014, KIPP Delta Collegiate High School; Josiah Dalencourt, Class of 2018, KIPP Delta College Preparatory School; Dontavius Walker, Class of 2021, KIPP Blytheville College Preparatory School; and Justin Ward, Class of 2026, KIPP Delta Elementary Literacy Academy. You can watch Dontavius and Justin give their speeches here. In addition to student speeches and a keynote address from Senator David Pryor, the evening featured performances by the KIPP Delta Collegiate High Choir and the KIPP Delta Drumline.

The Prove the Possible gala concluded with the announcement of the Building a Better Tomorrow capital campaign. With a goal of $1,300,000, this campaign will allow KIPP Delta to build a new kindergarten wing onto KIPP Delta Elementary Literacy Academy (housing four classrooms, two offices, and storage space), as well as a playground immediately behind the building. Thanks to a generous matching challenge gift by a generous individual donor, we have already raised $850,000 of our $1.3 million goal. All donations will continue to be matched up to $500,000, doubling your impact immediately.  In order for the building to be ready for the start of the 2014-2015 school year, we must raise an additional $50,000 over the next month so we may break ground in November.

You can help make this construction a reality and give our kindergarteners a permanent home by making a gift here.


Ouachita Baptist University Partners with KIPP

KIPP has announced that it will partner with Ouachita Baptist University in an effort to increase college completion rates for underserved KIPP students in the Delta and nationwide.  “We are most pleased to partner with KIPP,” said Ouachita President Rex M. Horne, Jr. “Their investment and interest in each young man and woman is most compatible with Ouachita. We believe this partnership will produce difference makers.”

Within the terms of this partnership, Ouachita plans to recruit and enroll two qualified KIPP alumni for the 2013-2014 school year and each year thereafter.  This fall, three KIPP alumni enrolled at Ouachita, exceeding the goal of the partnership.  The university will provide strong support to all KIPP alumni who enroll. Additionally, Ouachita will address the full financial need of KIPP alumni at the school and develop a mentorship program to provide further peer support.

“We are very excited about this partnership with Ouachita Baptist University,” said Scott Shirey, executive director at KIPP Delta. “OBU is committed to helping more students graduate from college, particularly students from rural areas like our KIPPsters. Our students have the opportunity to get a rigorous college education in their home state, which will build and retain strong human capital right here in the Delta.”

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


KIPPsters Explore the Mississippi River

In September, Ms. Shannon McMulkin’s senior environmental science class visited the Mississippi River for a water quality field lesson. The water sampling was done with expert support from John Ruskey, Mark “River” Peoples, and Oscar Donaby (KIPP Delta Class of 2013) of Quapaw Canoe Company.  The purpose of the experiment was to compare the water quality of different water samples from locations along the river. This has been an ongoing lab throughout the year as students have been learning about water and its importance in the ecosystem.  Students began by comparing tap water to Mississippi River water at the start of the school year. Then, last month, the class went down to the river and collected samples from the Harbor and the main channel and compared the results.

The purpose of this most recent trip was to track changes that occur as students moved down the river.  KIPPsters put the boats in at the mouth of the St. Francis River and traveled nine miles down the river to Helena Harbor. Every mile, the students collected a water sample from the boat. Unfortunately, the necessary equipment involves using a computer, so students couldn’t look at results until they arrived back at school. Once they did however, students ran a series of water tests to see how the water differed at each location that they collected samples. They tested for Dissolved Oxygen, pH, Temperature and Transmittance (clarity of the water).  

The focus so far in Ms. McMulkin’s class has been on natural factors that could be affecting water quality like sunlight, plants, sediment, etc. Now students are moving in to looking at how humans affect water quality, which will hopefully include a trip to the water treatment plant and other sites where humans are using and changing the water.  The goal is that students will continue to run these same tests throughout the year with water from different locations around Helena.

View photos from the KIPPster's recent Mississippi River Exploration


Student-crafted Holiday Cards for Sale!

Are you tired of having the same holiday cards as everyone else? Are you looking for some originality this year? You’re in luck! KIPP Delta students have been working on special holiday art projects this fall, and their best work will be turned into holiday cards for friends and family to purchase! The card designs and prices will be announced in early November. At that time, you can place your order online and your set of cards, with a thoughtful holiday message inside, will be put in the mail. This winter, consider spreading good cheer while simultaneously supporting KIPP Delta Public Schools!

Here’s a sneak peek of one of the cards.



Also in the News

View Photos from the Prove the Possible Gala


Announcements and Highlights

  • Help us Build a Better Tomorrow by supporting the KIPP Delta Kindergarten Wing. More details
  • KIPP Delta Elementary Choir Performs at Disney World October 19 - 24, 2013
  • View our Recent Press


Upcoming Events

  • Monsanto Check Presentation & Basketball Games in Helena – October 25, 2013
  • October Field Lessons – October 26, 2013
  • Home Basketball Games in Helena – October 28, 2013
  • KIPP Blytheville SOUPer Bowl – January 25, 2014

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Carissa Godwin
Chief of External Affairs