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UNC partnership with KIPP to help underprivileged students complete college

In an effort to increase college completion rates for students from underserved communities, UNC has paired with the Knowledge Is Power Program.

KIPP is a public charter school program created to give students from low-income families a chance for success in college.

The program started with 47 students in Houston, Texas, and is now a network of 125 schools across the nation.

“KIPP is based on this idea that if kids work hard and dream big, then they can go to college and have great opportunities in life,” said Steve Mancini, KIPP’s director of public affairs.

“We want to see our kids have the same college completion rates as kids from more affluent backgrounds, and that’s why we’re forming these partnerships with universities.”

Nineteen of the program’s alumni currently attend UNC, and starting in the fall, the University will recruit and enroll five program alumni every year. UNC will cover all of their financial needs.

Tammi Sutton, executive director of the KIPP school in Gaston, N.C., said paying for college is one of the greatest challenges for her students.

“The partnership will benefit KIPP students by providing financial assistance, which is one of the biggest hurdles our students have to overcome,” she said.

Mancini said UNC will also provide mentorships with upperclassmen, which UNC students will be able to receive work study money for.


UNC is the first public university in the state to partner with the program.

“We hope UNC will attract other schools to the partnership,” Sutton said.

Duke University and Davidson College already have partnerships in place.

The Gaston chapter of the program was opened in 2001 in a peanut field in Gaston, N.C., and now offers grades 5-12.

KIPP Gaston was the first branch of the program in the state, and was joined by KIPP Charlotte in 2007.

Stephen Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions, said UNC has enrolled many KIPP students in the past.

He said he believes becoming formal partners will be a good opportunity for the University.

“Our students celebrate the successes of one another and learn from one another,” he said.

“So having KIPP students on campus who are thriving will definitely have a positive impact on the fortunes of others here.”

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