Knowledge Is Power

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July Experience partners with KIPP to position students from underrepresented communities to achieve success in college.
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By Stacey Schmeidel

Lukmon Babajide ’13 always dreamed of going to college. “I didn’t know how, I didn’t know where,” he said, “but I knew I wanted to go.” When the Houston youngster was chosen to participate in KIPP Academy, his dream became more concrete. “KIPP got me thinking about college in a whole new way,” he said. “I learned that wanting college wasn’t enough. KIPP taught me that you have to put action behind those words.”

KIPP—the Knowledge Is Power Program—is a nationwide network of free, pre-college preparatory schools dedicated to readying students from underrepresented communities for success. KIPP is college-focused: School days are longer, and students take Saturday classes. They supplement academic work with Life Class, which helps develop organizational and interpersonal skills. And the program is successful: KIPPsters go on to and graduate from college at a rate much higher than the national average.

For Babajide, KIPP led to Davidson, where he’s majoring in sociology and minoring in chemistry. A Chidsey Fellow, he has been a leader in several student groups, including the Organization of Latin American Students and the ST RIDE program.

Now, thanks to a new partnership with KIPP, Davidson hopes that more talented students like Babajide will discover and enroll at the college. “Davidson strives to make equal opportunity real through simultaneous, aggressive commitments to academic excellence and access for all talented students, regardless of financial circumstances,” President Carol Quillen said. “KIPP has been very effective in this regard, and we’re privileged to work with them to realize these aspirations.”

Davidson was the third college in the U.S. to sign on to a KIPP partnership; now, a total of 12 schools are on board. As Davidson’s first step, 10 rising high school seniors who have been active in KIPP are participating in the college’s summer program, July Experience. Chris Gruber, Davidson’s vice president and dean of admission and financial aid, hopes that the KIPPsters’ experience at Davidson will help them imagine a future at the college. “Never have I seen an organization more committed to ensuring the success of its graduates,” he said.

Photo Credit: Bill Giduz

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