Guide to Enrolling in KIPP Texas—San Antonio Schools for 2021–2022

kipp texas san antonio student at desk

KIPP Texas—San Antonio is part of a pioneering network of charter schools that continue to show that students from all backgrounds are capable of achieving at high levels. On November 1, 2020, KIPP Texas public schools began accepting applications for enrollment for the 2021–2022 school year, and open enrollment continues through February 19, 2021. We have put together a guide to help you learn more about KIPP Texas—San Antonio and take steps to enroll your child for the next school year.

About KIPP Texas Public Schools in San Antonio

Since its founding in Houston in 1994, KIPP Texas public schools have grown into one of the largest and most influential charter school networks in the United States. Along the way, KIPP culture and practices have evolved and improved. For example, the time horizon has extended: Back when KIPP offered only middle schools, the goal was to get kids into good high schools; now, with KIPP Through College, the goal is to not only get KIPPsters enrolled in college, but to see that they graduate from college and enter their careers. Nevertheless, the core values have remained: Every kid deserves to go to a high quality school regardless of what zip code they live in; they deserve academic excellence and an environment that supports character education. A 2017 study by Mathematica showed that attending a KIPP middle school had a positive and statistically significant impact on those students’ achievement.

The KIPP network now covers 28 regions, including 255 schools, serving over 100,000 students. In 2018, KIPP Texas, a region of 52 schools and over 27,000 students, formed from the merger of four regions, including KIPP San Antonio, which began in 2003 when Mark Larson started KIPP Aspire, a middle school. In 2019, Allen Smith joined KIPP Texas—San Antonio as Regional Superintendent. 

signs in KIPP Poder classroom

KIPP Texas defines its core values in these terms: 

  • Champion equity: The belief that ALL students will learn. The adults must be aware of equity at all times.
  • Chase excellence: Make excellence a habit and “Prove the Possible.”
  • Persist with purpose. Find a way or make a way. Be tenacious in the face of obstacles.
  • Bring joy. Show appreciation. Generously give praise, recognition, and rewards.
  • Rise together. Team is more important than individual. Give help, and ask for help. Engage in healthy debate and conflict.

KIPPsters talk about “Team and Family.” For teachers, students, families, and leaders, both in the workplace and in their personal lives, there is a culture of stepping up and helping each other no matter what. In fact, in October 2020, KIPP Texas—San Antonio was ranked among the best mid-size employers in San Antonio. Smith described it as a culture where you “treat people well.” As a result, they have high marks on job satisfaction surveys and high employee retention.

KIPP Texas is a leader in creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments. Across Texas, the student population is 86% economically disadvantaged and 38% English language learners. In the San Antonio region, leaders have made choices that demonstrate cultural competence, such as offering Mexican American Studies courses and advocating for students who are immigrants. KIPP Texas–San Antonio is one of the few charter school networks in the San Antonio area that offers free transportation. It’s costly for the schools, but free transportation increases access to high-quality education for students who don’t live close enough to walk to school or have a family member who can drive them to school.  

KIPP University Prep seniors march down the hallway

KIPP University Prep seniors march down the hallway

With a mission to serve student populations who have been historically left behind, the KIPP Texas—San Antonio developed a strong response to the Covid-19 pandemic. They achieved their goal providing every student with a device (laptops or tablets) and access to wifi. They also provided meals to go for families. In making it a priority to meet the basic needs of students and their families, Smith said, “We are trying to strip it down to what’s really important. It’s not whether you put on a suit and tie or dress and go into a building every day.” He added, “We should have been doing this all along.

KIPP Through College is a program that supports KIPP alumni as they progress towards completing their college degrees or career preparation programs. Students who may be the first in their families to complete high school or enroll in college benefit from extra support and guidance. Current students meet with college counselors as they research programs and file applications. Not in 2020, but in a typical year, the Team and Family gather at the AT&T Center in May for a noisy, joyful College Commitment Ceremony, when graduating seniors announce which colleges they will be attending. (During Covid, they decorated cars and trucks for a parade to celebrate graduates.) The support continues while KIPP alumni are enrolled in college and facing the challenges of being first-generation college students. The college completion rate for KIPP Texas alumni is about three times higher than their peers from similarly underprivileged backgrounds. The message to KIPPsters in college, said Smith, is “you can do it,” combined with a concerted effort to give them the support they need. They are sharing this knowledge: staff at KIPP Through College have partnered with San Antonio ISD and other traditional public school districts to build college counseling teams. 

KIPP Texas—San Antonio continues to evolve in its response to the pandemic and how to educate students meaningfully in these times. “If we don’t see the humanity in education and see how to treat people, we won’t be able to make progress in education,” said Smith. “Let’s get this right for every kid.” Their main areas of focus are DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) and SEL (social-emotional learning). This year, many families have experienced real trauma in the form of the threat of physical or economic harm from Covid-19, as well as racial injustice and the struggle for equity. We “don’t just look past that,” said Smith. Their schools are working harder to support the most marginalized families, offering counseling and other services, especially to students with disabilities.

KIPP San Antonio students mailing college applications

KIPP San Antonio students mailing college applications

To read more about KIPP Texas public schools San Antonio in the news, we recommend that you click on the articles linked at the bottom of this post. Also, we invite you to join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook and ask questions; the group includes current KIPP families who can comment based on their own experiences.

Campuses in San Antonio

In 2021–22, KIPP Texas—San Antonio will have seven schools in the San Antonio area, all located within Loop 410. In 2019, on the statewide district’s most recent school report card, they earned a B rating; the list below includes links to each campus’s school report cards. The network and the region also report their results. 

Download the free San Antonio Charter Schools app for an interactive map that includes these campuses and many more. You can also find campus information about KIPP (and many other schools of choice) in our Guide to Charter Schools in San Antonio.

KIPP San Antonio students voting

KIPP San Antonio students voting

How to Enroll

Families can apply online to enroll their children at KIPP Texas publics schools in San Antonio. Open enrollment for 2021–22 began on November 1, 2020 and will continue through February 19, 2021. On March 1, 2021, KIPP Texas will hold a random lottery. Students who are selected will receive offers to enroll; the remaining students will be placed on waiting lists, and will be notified when a spot becomes available. If you have questions about how to apply, contact or call 210-880-8080.

During application season, there will be information sessions and other events for families to learn more about KIPP Texas—San Antonio. Join the KIPP Texas interest list to receive email updates about these events. 

We also recommend following these KIPP social media accounts:

In addition, please join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook to post questions and search previous discussions about KIPP Texas—San Antonio.

KIPP Poder cafeteria

KIPP Poder cafeteria

Facts About KIPP Texas Public Schools

During a recent interview, Superintendent Smith described a culture at KIPP that holds high expectations about learning, and also treats students well. He described his leadership style as setting a tone: “We are going to be good people. It’s not punitive, and we’re not setting unrealistic expectations.” Smith reflected on his own experience as someone who was “not a great student” but found a nontraditional route to elite schools. He credits leaders who shared their knowledge—the people who would “sow into me,” he said.

Smith sees the aim of education as “teaching someone how to learn.” He raised his own daughters, who are now adults, to be self starters: they know how to access information, how to look things up, how to solve problems. They know what’s important to them and how to manage their learning. With that skill set, they are going to be fine—they are prepared for the future.

On a 2019 tour of KIPP Poder Academy, we collected some stories that show the distinctive culture of KIPP Texas—San Antonio. The student ambassadors spoke about their morning advisory period, a time when students can talk about what is bothering them and get support from their fellow students. Perhaps a student had witnessed a traumatic event outside of school, and came to school feeling preoccupied; by talking it out in a circle with their peers, they can feel safe and soak up the love and concern from other students. These restorative practices help students be more aware of their emotions and get into a state where they are ready to learn.

KIPP Poder Academy students with Inga Cotton and Regional Superintendent Allen Smith

KIPP Poder Academy students with Inga Cotton and Regional Superintendent Allen Smith

The students at Poder showed us their classrooms, including a space for Mexican American Studies courses. They also took us to the music room, the gym, and the soccer fields, where students participate in extracurricular activities and sports. For a school culture that is so dedicated to academic excellence, the KIPPsters are also well-rounded students who find creative ways to express their joy.

Music rack at KIPP Poder

Music room at KIPP Poder

Innovation is also part of KIPP culture. In May, KIPP Texas—San Antonio partnered with Tech Bloc, to host a conversation with Reed Hastings, founder and CEO of Netflix and a KIPP Foundation board member. Hastings spoke about how small changes that may not even have been noticed at the time—such as releasing an entire season of a TV show at once—can turn out to be major innovations that disrupt industries and create new behaviors, like binge watching. Hastings has chosen to dedicate resources to charter schools because he wants to support their innovative practices and disrupt how education works; he is also politically savvy and wants to see charter schools collaborate with traditional public schools.

The downtown campus that is home to three schools—KIPP Esperanza Primary, KIPP Aspire Academy, and KIPP University Prep—came about with the help of the Turner-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund. This social impact venture is a partnership between Bobby Turner and tennis legend Andre Agassi, who was forced to drop out of school as a teenager to pursue professional tennis, and in midlife became dedicated to giving back to education.

KIPP University Prep High School is an International Baccalaureate campus. This is unique in the KIPP network, and there are currently only a handful of IB high schools in San Antonio. At KIPP University Prep, the IB program is universal—all 11th and 12th graders participate. 

KIPP San Antonio student

KIPP Texas—San Antonio is a partner with Choose to Succeed, a nonprofit organization working to attract the nation’s best public charter schools to San Antonio. Learn more about Choose to Succeed in this post.

As KIPP Texas—San Antonio continues to reinvent itself, we are confident that the big KIPPsters will hold on to their core values of providing an excellent education to all students, especially those in underserved areas, and being mindful of equity. Their new leader, Allen Smith, is shaping the organization and helping the network to continue to grow. As they have for so many years, the KIPP Team and Family will continue to lead in educational excellence and innovation. We encourage you apply for enrollment now. You are also welcome to join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group to learn more and interact with current KIPP Texas Public Schools families.

KIPP San Antonio Regional Superintendent Allen Smith

KIPP San Antonio Regional Superintendent Allen Smith

Charter Moms Chats

Watch Allen Smith, Regional Superintendent of KIPP Texas—San Antonio, speak with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on November 3, 2020 at 4 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.

Allen Smith comes to KIPP Texas Public Schools with more than 20 years as a leader in education. He is nationally recognized for his work improving chronically low-performing schools and has a track-record of successfully mentoring instructional leaders. Allen is a Denver native and former Denver Public Schools (DPS) principal who most recently led the Culture Equity and Leadership Team (CELT) at DPS since 2016. He also served for three years as executive director of the Denver Summit Schools Network. He then joined Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina as a community superintendent before heading to California to serve as Deputy Superintendent/Chief of Schools for Oakland Unified School District. Allen is a graduate of Harvard’s Urban Principal Institute, Public Education Leadership Program and Urban Superintendent Program.

Read More About KIPP Texas Public Schools in San Antonio

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