Penn Compact 2020/

Increase Access: Penn and KIPP Celebrate New Partnership

Representatives from the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Foundation and the University gathered Oct. 2 to celebrate a partnership that provides Penn with new resources to recruit KIPP students, underwrite their financial aid, and offer them targeted support once they get to campus.The effort is supported by a $2.5 million gift from Martha and Bruce Karsh of Los Angeles.

Citing the core Jewish belief of Tikkun Olam -- that it's everyone's responsibility to heal the world -- President Amy Gutmann thanked the Karshes and said their gift will make Penn a better place for underserved students and encourage their success.

“It's what we're about at Penn,” Gutmann said. “Education is absolutely essential to healing the world.”

Each year, beginning in 2013-14, Penn will enroll 12-15 KIPP students who meet admissions requirements, forming an even larger KIPP community at Penn that will offer support through college.

In her address, Martha Karsh described how her family became interested in supporting education through their foundation and said her “aha moment” came when she visited a KIPP school in Los Angeles and saw its success. KIPP schools, she said, are considered the gold standard for charter schools.

“I am humbled to be able to make a difference in someone's life,” Karsh said about her gift.

Mike Feinberg, a Penn alum who founded KIPP along with Dave Levin in 1994, thanked the Karshes for believing in KIPP, and Penn, which he called KIPP’s spiritual partner.

Eric Furda, Penn’s director of admissions, noted that KIPP helps to keep high school students from falling through the cracks of the educational system.

At the event, KIPPster Chevon Boone, a senior health and societies major at Penn who graduated from the first KIPP school in North Carolina, spoke for the KIPP students currently on campus. Thanking the Karshes, she called their gift a monumental step, but added, “We’re not done yet.”

Text by Julie McWilliams
Photos by Scott Spitzer