I hope this note finds you and your family safe during this extremely difficult time. On behalf of the 7,894 KIPP students, alumni and their families, I am writing today asking for your help.
Over the past 25 years, KIPP NYC has faced many challenges. During each and every one, our champions and cheerleaders provided beacons of light to guide us through. Twenty-five years ago, when we were forced to host summer school in the Franz Sigel Park on the Grand Concourse because the New York City wouldn’t provide us a building, a group of donors arranged for breakfast and lunch and a snack every day. After 9/11, another group of supporters made sure that families affected were able to continue paying rent and that health and mental health services were available to all KIPP families. While the pandemic crisis of COVID-19 is the gravest challenge we have ever faced – together we will breathe life into three of KIPP NYC’s core values: Revolutionary Love, Teach Like Harriett, and Find a Way or Make One.
When I first met Harriett Ball, my remarkable mentor teacher, she taught me that our first responsibility as educators is to keep kids safe – physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Harriett’s wisdom has been core to KIPP NYC’s commitment to our students and families for the past twenty-five years. We promised families that we would do whatever it takes to protect the safety and well-being of their children.
This is why the leadership of KIPP NYC made the decision to close our school buildings yesterday and start remote learning next week. Starting Monday, March 16th, our 7,894 students and alumni and 780 staff will be engaged in learning experiences linked by technology, conference calls, and most importantly our hearts. Although we hope to resume classes on March 30th, we will also continue to assess the situation and are prepared to remain remote for longer.
For us, this remote learning is about three things: protecting the safety of our families, faculty and staff; helping our kids feel connected and have some sense of normalcy during this national crisis, and trying to ensure that their educations continue. We have created a detailed remote education plan to ensure that all of our elementary and middle students continue to learn, and that our high school students will be prepared for critical end-of-year exams and graduation.
As you can imagine, pulling this together in under a week, has required a Herculean effort by our teachers, principals, and regional team. In order to get ready to serve our students remotely, KIPP NYC prepared in the following ways:
- We have provided MiFis and Chromebooks to students in grades 3-12 without computer or internet access
- We purchased additional software program licensing to support remote learning in grades 2-8
- While school is out, over 425 students will continue to receive mandated counseling and hundreds more will continue to receive at-risk student counseling
- We are preparing to supplement DOE breakfast and lunch services for families who have mobility issues or need more support
- We have identified KIPP Alumni who are in college and need transportation support to come home
- We have connected families with access to medical services (e.g. mental health facilities) in the event of a crisis that insurance won’t cover
- We have provided additional books and school supplies for children needing to learn from home for extended periods of time
- We have purchased cleaning supplies and services to do deep cleans and sanitizing of our schools so we can ensure schools are safe and get kids back in classrooms ASAP
- We have prepared our entire regional office to function offsite to ensure that critical functions like teacher recruitment continue to run seamlessly
The rapid and remarkable response has inspired the entire KIPP NYC community. It is also expensive. This is where we need your help. With the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, we are asking everyone in our community to donate to help support our KIPP students and families, alumni and staff. Every gift counts, and will help us to continue to support our 7,894 students and alumni during these uncertain times. You can make a donation here: https://www.kippnyc.org/giving
We wish to extend our very best wishes to you and your loved ones during this time of uncertainty, and please reach out if you need anything or have any questions.
With the deepest gratitude and respect.
KIPP NYC Co-Founder