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MTSU, KIPP Charter Schools aim to boost college gr...

MTSU, KIPP Charter Schools aim to boost college grad rates

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — KIPP Nashville and KIPP Memphis are partnering with Middle Tennessee State University to increase the number of students from underrepresented communities that earn a college degree.

In partnering with KIPP, MTSU hopes to recruit and enroll 10 qualified KIPP alumni each year. Through the partnership, MTSU will provide KIPP students with assistance navigating financial aid, work to build a peer support network and offer opportunities for early exposure to the university.

Nashville KIPP Academy Middle School Principal and MTSU alumna Laura Miguez Howarth, left, and MTSU freshman and KIPP Academy graduate Deyauna Cook watch as KIPP Executive Director Randy Dowell, second from left, and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee sign the memorandum of understanding Nov. 1 in Nashville. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

Nashville KIPP Academy Middle School Principal and MTSU alumna Laura Miguez Howarth, left, and MTSU freshman and KIPP Academy graduate Deyauna Cook watch as KIPP Executive Director Randy Dowell, second from left, and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee sign the memorandum of understanding Nov. 1 in Nashville. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

“We are thrilled to be entering into this partnership with MTSU,” said Emily Blatter, director of KIPP Through College at KIPP Nashville. “The reality is that less than 10 percent of students from low-income communities earn college degrees. The KTC program is designed to support our students as they make the journey to and through college, but we can’t do it alone. That’s why partnerships, like the one we’re celebrating with MTSU, are so important.”

“We are proud to become the only public university in the state to partner with this nationally recognized network of college-preparatory schools,” MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee said. “We see this as an extension of our commitment to student success, as well as the many programs we have in place to help support traditionally underserved populations reach their educational goals.

“With more than 90 KIPP Nashville applicants for our Fall 2017 class, we are the number one school choice for students in the region, so I’m pleased to learn KIPP counselors are encouraging students to seek out schools like MTSU that have support service similar to those offered by the preparatory school.”

McPhee offered a bit of a surprise after the signing, telling the gathering — including 30 students in the “MTSU Class” — that he will become a mentor to them and keep up with their progress, plus invite them to campus and his home.

Established in 2005, KIPP Nashville currently educates more than 1,300 students at the elementary, middle, and high school level. KIPP Nashville’s college prep public schools are tuition-free and open to all. Currently, 76 percent of students are African American and 85 percent are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. KIPP Nashville currently has 81 students enrolled in college, including 10 at MTSU.

With their Finish Line Scholarship initiative — a universitywide commitment to helping students graduate in four years — and Scholars Academy, MTSU already has a proven track record of providing support for its students and is a natural fit for this ongoing partnership.

“MTSU has done an outstanding job supporting KIPP Nashville alumni over the years, and we are excited for more KIPP students to join their community and become Blue Raiders,” Randy Dowell, KIPP Nashville executive director, said. “We have a shared vision of seeing more students excel in college and beyond, and will work with MTSU to ensure that KIPP students have the support that they need to succeed.”

“I am excited to hear about the partnership, because not only are we spreading the team and family motto, but we are also creating bigger and better opportunities for future scholars,” KIPP Academy Nashville alumna and MTSU freshman Deyauna Cook, said.

As youngsters in the “MTSU Class” pose with them, KIPP Academy Middle School Principal Laura Miguez Howarth, left, Executive Director Randy Dowell, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and MTSU freshman and KIPP alumna Deyauna Cook are shown following a memorandum of understanding signing between the two institutions Nov. 1 at the Nashville charter school. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

As youngsters in the “MTSU Class” pose with them, KIPP Academy Middle School Principal Laura Miguez Howarth, left, Executive Director Randy Dowell, MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and MTSU freshman and KIPP alumna Deyauna Cook are shown following a memorandum of understanding signing between the two institutions Nov. 1 at the Nashville charter school. (MTSU photo by Randy Weiler)

KIPP is a national network of 200 schools in 20 states and Washington, D.C. educating 80,000 students in pre-K through 12th grade. KIPP has college partnerships with more than 80 colleges and universities and 2,400 KIPP students are attending a KIPP college partner school this year. MTSU and Vanderbilt University are the two institutions in Tennessee currently involved in the KIPP College Partnership program. You can view a complete list of KIPP’s college partners here.

KIPP students nationwide have a track record of completing college at higher rates than national averages. According to 2010 U.S. Census data, 31 percent of Americans ages 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 fall 2015, 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. Nationally, KIPP students complete college at a rate that is above the national average for all students and more than four times the rate than that of students from similar economic backgrounds.

About KIPP Nashville

KIPP Nashville, part of a national network of college-preparatory public charter schools, educates students from Kindergarten through college graduation. KIPP Nashville has four schools across three campuses in East and North Nashville: KIPP Academy Nashville (MS); KIPP Nashville Collegiate High School; KIPP Nashville College Prep (MS); and KIPP Kirkpatrick Elementary. KIPP schools educate more than 1,300 students. To learn more about the KIPP Foundation, visit http://www.kipp.org/.

 

— Erin Holt (holt@kippnashville.org)

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