KIPP DC Public Schools: A New Role as Community Support Hub

When Mayor Bowser made the announcement on Friday, March 13 that school facilities would be closed beginning Monday, March 16, KIPP DC’s schools didn’t miss a beat. While some schools took an early spring break to prepare for remote learning, KIPP DC schools went straight to distance learning.

All of its 7,000 students were sent home with printed packets of learning materials. Its 1,000 high school students could use the chromebooks they had already been using in school. KIPP DC quickly purchased and delivered an additional 6,000 chromebooks and tablets to all of its middle school, elementary and early childhood students.

Every PreK-12 KIPP DC student now has one-to-one technology hardware at home. And many families in the KIPP network that indicated that they did not have internet access were provided with hotspot devices.

KIPP DC initially made these investments out-of-pocket to get technology to students as quickly as possible. It has since been partly reimbursed by the DC Education Equity Fund, set up by Ed Forward and the Greater Washington Community Foundation to close the technology gap during the crisis.

KIPP DC, which is headed by FC2 Trustee Allison Fansler, has long operated as a school system. But this crisis has forced the organization to become a hub for the community. It’s not just providing remote learning experience, but also remote care.

Allison and her team surveyed the roughly 7,000 families in the KIPP DC network to see what they and their children needed during the crisis. They found that their network needed a variety of additional supports. KIPP’s mental health services are still being offered. Free lunches are still being provided nearly every day at their school facilities. KIPP has also made the unique move to give micro grants to families experiencing sudden income gaps and to alumni who needed to purchase a train ticket home from college.

According to their website, at KIPP DC schools, students develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence to become Washington DC’s next generation of leaders. Allison and her team are keeping that promise despite the challenges that come along with a global pandemic.