We are proud to share this guest post by the KIPP Texas Public Schools team about KIPP Forward, their program to prepare students for success in career and college.
You’ve heard of KIPP Texas Public Schools in San Antonio. We were one of the first public charters to educate San Antonio students in 2003 and we are known for our commitment to sending students to college. While this remains true for the 3,600 “Little KIPPsters” we serve in San Antonio, we have shifted our programing to ensure all students can see a path to post-graduate student success, no matter the career or collegiate path they choose. This program is called KIPP Forward, and we want to help you learn more about the program.
Road to KIPP Forward
KIPP Forward was originally established as KIPP To College, in response to a need to level the playing field and ensure all students were well prepared for the rigor of high school and college prep programs. The program’s original ultimate goal was to prepare eighth grade students for the transition into 9th–12th grade college-ready high school programs at other educational institutions.
As KIPP counselors stayed in touch with their middle school alumni, they noticed some of the challenges and academic struggles students were facing in high school. So, KIPP decided to do something about it and developed KIPP high schools and the KIPP Through College program.
KIPP Through College was created as a college access program, so that high school students not only graduated with a high school diploma and were college ready, but also had support throughout their college education. At KIPP Texas, where a large percentage of the student population are first-generation college goers in underserved communities, KIPP Through College recognized the importance of continuing to support our alumni through the college journey.
Even after expanding KIPP through high school and experiencing success and college matriculation, the KIPP Through College team continued to recognize gaps in student preparation, and we knew we could do more to better serve our scholars.
There was a small number of students who didn’t matriculate to college after high school graduation, instead choosing to enlist in the military or career and technical schools. In pursuit of our promise to support all students, KIPP Through College evolved into the KIPP Forward program, created and designed to ensure that all students are on track to leading fulfilling lives by building pathways towards careers of their highest aspirations. While KIPP Forward recognizes that a college degree is the biggest factor in giving students access to leading a fulfilling life, it also acknowledges that there are multiple pathways to success and every student is unique on their college and career journey.
Helping Students See a Path to Success
The KIPP Forward team uses multiple strategies to help all students see a path to success. During high school, current students learn about real world careers. After graduation, counselors follow up with KIPP alumni, and help them connect with other KIPP graduates. KIPP Forward also supports parents and guardians in learning how to assist their scholars.
Real World Experience
In support of helping KIPPsters prepare and explore different career pathways, KIPP high schools host career nights, networking events, mock interviews, and leadership training. Post-graduation, KIPP Forward finds opportunities for students to participate in job shadowing and internships, so that students gain exposure to real world opportunities.
Support After Graduation
KIPP Forward counselors know what it takes for students to succeed in college and in their careers. Counselors follow-up with alumni throughout their time as they complete college to help navigate the FAFSA/TASFA process, transfer process, re-enrollment process, and to provide guidance on college and career choices.
With more than 97 college KIPP partners and a network of 12,000 admitted alumni of KIPP currently in colleges and universities across the country, KIPPsters have connections on campus. Alumni stay in touch through in-person events and online social networking. They support each other as big milestones approach.
Family and Community Engagement
It really does take a village. KIPP Forward provides access to parents by providing classes and programs that teach parents and guardians how to assist their scholars in the college application process. KIPP is committed to helping parents and scholars feel empowered about the college process and ensure they have the knowledge and information to complete the necessary steps. While KIPP Texas remains committed to 100 percent college preparation so that KIPPsters have true choice, we also know it’s not the next step for all. KIPP Texas continues to support alumni choices to matriculate directly to college, join the military, enroll in trade school, or pursue a career, and our unwavering support goes beyond high school and college graduation. KIPP Forward is the perfect team name to describe our wholehearted commitment to our KIPPsters.
Support During the Pandemic
KIPP Forward looks to support our students wherever there is a need. When COVID impacted our alumni’s ability to successfully persist to college, KIPP Forward in Texas in collaboration with the National KIPP Forward program was able to provide Emergency Bridge funding to support our KIPPsters who faced financial challenges due to COVID. We also added a grant-funded position, the Re-enrollment and Transfer Advisor, to specifically reach out and support students who have not yet enrolled or temporarily withdrew from college due to COVID challenges. To learn more about the program, visit our website at kipptexas.org/kipp-forward, and explore the links below.
Charter Moms Chats
Ruben Rodriguez emigrated from Mexico and grew up in Chicago and Houston. He holds both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Social Work from Stephen F. Austin St. University. Ruben, his wife, Chris, and his four children, settled in the East Texas community of Nacogdoches for 30 years before moving to San Antonio. Before his tenure with KIPP schools started ten years ago, he was employed by The Hispanic Scholarship Fund as the National Director for National Program. Previous to that, he was a Lecturer at the School of Social Work at Stephen F. Austin State University; he was also the Program Manager for a fatherhood program in Lufkin, Texas and started his career as the bilingual school social worker for Nacogdoches ISD.
Ruben is proud to have served as a board member in organizations like the United Way, the American Cancer Society, Pineywoods Home Team, School Health Advisory Council and United Nacogdoches, The East Texas Community Health Systems, and was on the steering committee for the development of a CASA chapter in Nacogdoches. In 1998, the National Association of Social Workers, Texas Chapter, acknowledged his work with the local Hispanic community by awarding him the Social Worker of the Year for the state of Texas and in 2005, the John Ben Shepperd Leadership Institute honored Ruben and presented him with their Local Leader Award. Ruben’s work and research with Spanish-speaking immigrants in rural settings was published in a textbook and serves as a model to work with immigrant families for future Social Workers.
Ruben’s commitment to serve every first-generation college student and their families continues in his work at KIPP Texas. He’s been the director in San Antonio since 2013, having worked with KIPP University Prep students since their first graduating class. Most recently, the partnership between KIPP San Antonio and San Antonio ISD has been featured the media as a rare collaborative and effective model to serve a community of students by increasing a student’s chance of finding post-secondary options.
Read More About KIPP Texas Public Schools in San Antonio
- “Providing an Inclusive Education Environment at KIPP Texas—San Antonio,” San Antonio Charter Moms, December 1, 2021
- “Q & A with KIPP Texas San Antonio,” Erica Zucco, KENS 5, August 12, 2021
- “KIPP Launches First-Of-Its-Kind Alumni Network to Help Its 30K Graduates With Careers, Mental Health and Finances,” Richard Whitmire, 74 Million, October 13, 2020
- “Coin Flip Fitness for Staying Healthy at Home,” Steven Ramirez, San Antonio Charter Moms, July 23, 2020
- “Grumpy Pants: Art and Emotional Wellness,” Jessica G. Rivera, San Antonio Charter Moms, July 10, 2020
- “KIPP Middle School Students More Likely to Enroll in College, Seek 4-Year Degrees,” Sarah D. Sparks, Education Week, September 26, 2019
- “Free local program helps get students into college, thrive while they’re there,” Max Massey, KSAT, September 23, 2019
- “Charters and District Schools Share Strategies on Getting Low-Income Students Through College, Putting Uneasiness Aside,” Richard Whitmire, 74 Million, September 3, 2019
- “As School Districts Collaborate With Top Charters and Foundations, We’re on the Cusp of a Breakthrough in Guiding Low-Income & Minority Students to a College Diploma,” Richard Whitmire, 74 Million, June 24, 2019
- “KIPP to Open Its Second High School for Fall 2019,” Emily Donaldson, San Antonio Report, December 11, 2018
- “KIPP University Prep Seniors Experience First Election as New Voters,” Emily Donaldson, San Antonio Report, October 23, 2018
- “KIPP Esperanza Dual Language Academy Thanks Harvey Najim for a $1 Million Gift,” San Antonio Charter Moms, October 10, 2018
- “Graduating KIPP Students Declare College Plans on Spurs Home Court,” Emily Donaldson, San Antonio Report, May 26, 2018
- “5-Year Grant Aims to Lift San Antonio Students, But What Happens After It Ends?” Camille Phillips, Texas Public Radio, January 24, 2018
- “Charter and Traditional Schools Find a Common Purpose in Texas,” Richard Whitmire, Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2017
- “It’s Bigger Than Teaching, It’s Love: How KIPP Is Getting Students To and Through College,” Caroline Bermudez, Education Post, April 17, 2017