KIPP Chicago Schools

KIPP Chicago Schools is a local network of charter schools that is part of the nationally renowned Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP). Our schools are completely free, and there are no requirements for enrollment except residency in the city of Chicago.

The seeds of KIPP Chicago Schools were planted in 2003 with a single class of fifth graders at KIPP Ascend Middle School. Today, KIPP Chicago Schools consists of eight schools:

Together, these schools educate 2,900 students in grades K-8 from the South and West Sides of the Chicago. Our campuses are located in the Austin, Englewood, North Lawndale, and West Humboldt Park Neighborhoods. KIPP Chicago also advises 1,100 KIPP alumni currently in high school or college through our KIPP Through College program.

Our Student Population

African American or Latino
Qualify for free and reduced price lunch
Diverse Learners

KIPP Through College

At the national level, KIPP has created college partnerships with the institutions that share our belief that a student’s zip code and family income should not dictate whether he or she attains a degree.

Partner universities commit to not only admitting KIPP students, but also providing critical resources once those students are on campus to ensure that the students remain on track for a college degree. Current KIPP college partners include Vanderbilt University, Spelman College, Franklin and Marshall College, Colby College, and many more.

Learn More About KIPP Through College

What is KIPP?

KIPP schools are tuition-free, public charter schools open to all students. KIPP schools are united by a common mission, a commitment to excellence, and a belief that if we help children develop the academic and character strengths they need for college and choice filled lives, they will be able to build a better tomorrow for themselves, for their communities, for us all.

KIPP is a national network of college-preparatory public charter schools with a 20-year track record of preparing students in educationally underserved communities for success in college and in life.

There are currently 242 KIPP schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia, serving 100,000 students in grades K-12. More than 14,000 KIPP alumni are in college working toward their degrees.

join the KIPP Chicago Team

242 KIPP schools

20 states and the
District of Columbia

100,000 students
in grades K-12

10,000+ KIPP

Senior Staff

Rashid Bell KIPP One Primary Principal

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Rashid Bell joined KIPP Chicago in 2010 as founding Assistant Principal at KIPP Ascend Primary, after serving as a Teach for America corps member and teaching fourth and fifth grades in Newark. In the 2014-15 year, he led the fifth-grade students at KIPP Ascend Primary to achieving the 90th percentile of attainment in math on the NWEA MAP test. He was awarded the Fisher Family Fellowship in 2015 and founded KIPP One Primary in 2016.

Jake Boesch KIPP Ascend Primary Principal

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Jake Boesch joined KIPP Chicago in 2011 after serving as a Teach for America corps member for two years in the New York City Department of Education, teaching one year at Achievement First, and serving on the Teach for America staff for two years. In his year at Achievement First, 100% of his students scored proficient or advanced on the New York state exam for reading and math. At KIPP Chicago, Jake founded the first grade team and second grade team at KIPP Ascend Primary, also serving as Literacy Content Lead and Assistant Principal, before becoming its second Principal in fall of 2016.

Tessa Catlett KIPP Bloom Primary Principal

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Tessa Catlett joined KIPP Chicago in 2013 after serving as a 4th and 5th grade teacher for two years in St. Louis. In the 2014-2015 school year, Tessa led her 5th grade students to the 99th percentile of grade-level growth in reading on the NWEA MAP test, and in the 2015-2016 school year she led the entire 5th grade team to growth targets that exceeded the KIPP national network average across all subject areas on that test. Tessa served as founding 3rd Grade and founding 5th Grade teacher and Assistant Principal of KIPP Ascend Primary before being awarded the Fisher Family Fellowship in 2017 and founding KIPP Bloom Primary School in fall 2018.

Rebecca Cowell KIPP Ascend Middle School Principal

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Rebecca Cowell is School Leader of KIPP Ascend Middle School. Rebecca joined KIPP in 2005 as the sixth and seventh grade science teacher at KIPP Ascend Middle School. In the years that followed, Rebecca designed the middle school science curriculum for KAMS, taught at each grade level 5-8, served as a grade level chair, a science department chair and was in the 2007-2008 KIPP Teacher Leader cohort.

During the summer, Rebecca was an active participant in student recruitment and held both the principal and assistant principal position at KAMS’s summer school. After four years at Ascend, Rebecca took a sabbatical to get her Masters degree from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. At Harvard, Rebecca studied school leadership, teacher leadership, and educational policy. Upon completing her Masters degree, Rebecca returned to the Midwest to serve as the founding ninth grade biology teacher at KIPP Lead High School in Gary, Indiana. In 2011, Rebecca returned to KIPP Ascend as an eighth grade teacher, science department chair, and regional curriculum developer. For the past four years, Rebecca has served as an Assistant Principal. Rebecca was the first in her family to attend college and is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Outside of school, Rebecca spends time with her husband chasing around her children Porter, Everest, Harrison and Luella.

April Goble Executive Director

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April Goble is the Executive Director of KIPP Chicago Schools. April has nearly 20 years of experience in education, including 15 years at KIPP. She began her career as a Teach for America corps member in Washington D.C., for which she received the Cartier Award for Excellence in teaching and community involvement. She has served as both a math teacher and principal in KIPP. April is currently in her 9th year as Executive Director of KIPP Chicago. The region has received numerous accolades, including being recognized as the district’s highest performing school network.

As a first generation college graduate, April appreciates education’s transformative power. She has a passion for the arts, and is particularly proud of KIPP Chicago’s Children’s Museum of Art and Social Justice (, through which the network raises funds for further arts integration at its schools. April received her bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and History from Indiana University and her master’s degree in Teaching, Early Childhood Education from Trinity College. As an undergraduate, April was also a proud recipient of the McNair Scholarship. She currently serves as a leadership coach for the KIPP Foundation and is a board member of the James W Foley Legacy Foundation.

Peter Gooden Director of KIPP Through College

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Peter Gooden joined KIPP Chicago in 2010 as the Director of Alumni Services for the KIPP Through College program, after spending two years working for KIPP NYC as the KTC Alumni counselor and two years working for the University of Chicago Charter schools as the 6 to 16 Advisor, where he helped to develop lessons for the 6-16 curriculum as well as creating a higher education culture at the middle school, Carter G. Wilson. He is currently the Director of KIPP Through College here in Chicago and manages the team to support high school access & persistence, college placement & persistence, and career advancement. As a first generation US citizen, high school graduate, and college graduate, Peter has worked tirelessly to support equity and accessibility in higher education.

Chris Haid Chief of Staff

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Chris Haid is KIPP Chicago’s Chief of Staff, leading progress monitoring, strategic planning, data analysis, and technology planning. He also supports external affairs, communications, and development. Chris has been at KIPP Chicago since 2011, serving previously as the Chief Information Officer and the Director of Research and Analysis. Prior to KIPP Chicago he held academic positions at the University of Chicago, NYU, and Yale.

Jennifer Hodges Director of the Whole Child Fund

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Jennifer L. Hodges serves as Director of the Whole Child Fund with KIPP Chicago. She leads the convening of educators, families, policymakers, and community members in partnership to strategically influence the long-term success of students. Her work centers the needs of KIPP students, families, and teachers, ensuring holistic development of all stakeholders and to improve student outcomes and increase the economic, political, and social capacity of households.

Prior to joining KIPP Jennifer was Director of Corporate Development at United Way of Metro Chicago. She had direct management of a corporate fundraising team with oversight of $16 million of the annual $40 million revenue goal; co-led a $32 million national account management strategy across 14 U.S. markets, and co-founded and co-chaired United Way’s internal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategies. Jennifer began her professional career with six years in the financial industry, where she worked in wealth management at Greenleaf Trust and upon relocating to Chicago, Jennifer joined Gray & Company, an investment consulting firm.

Jarell Lee KIPP Academy Chicago Primary Principal

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Jarell is the Founding School Leader of KIPP Academy Chicago Primary, a school built on the values of love, joy, and community. Previously, Jarell worked for KIPP NJ where he served as the school leader of KIPP Life Academy and as an assistant school leader at KIPP Seek Academy.

Prior to joining the KIPP team, Jarell taught second grade at Uncommon Schools’ Excellence Boys Elementary Academy as a Teach For America Corps Member. He also led the third grade team, developed a character education system, and led school-wide joy initiatives to invest students in school culture systems. Jarell also served as the founding dean of school culture at Achievement First’s Aspire Elementary School, where he created systems and rituals to invest students and to support struggling students. Additionally, Jarell coached teachers as the the academic dean for first grade.

Jarell received a B.A. in Sociology & African-American Studies from Harvard University, a M.S. in Elementary Education from Teacher University at Hunter College, and a Master’s in Supervision and Administration from the University of Houston. Outside of school, Jarell loves to play with his son and puppy, go to the gym, watch NBA games, and wear fanny packs.

Ken Lee KIPP One Academy Principal

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Ken Lee joined KIPP Chicago in 2010 as a 6th Grade ELA teacher after serving as a Teach for America corps member and teaching three years at Perspectives Math & Science Academy. His students grew on average 3.1 years in each of those years. He also served as Literacy Content Team Lead and Assistant Principal before being awarded the Fisher Family Fellowship in 2014. As a leader, Ken has led a turnaround, two small campuses, school reviews, and founded KIPP One Academy in 2016.

Amy Pouba Superintendent

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Amy Pouba is KIPP Chicago’s Superintendent. Amy has worked at KIPP Chicago since 2004 when she joined KIPP Ascend Middle School as a teacher, eventually serving an assistant principal and school leader. As Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer she has led successful efforts to standardize behavior management systems, increase cross-school collaboration, implement a regional assessment strategy, and coordinate leadership development. She has led KIPP Chicago to be Chicago’s highest performing charter network while growing the region from 2 to 8 schools. Prior to KIPP Chicago she held teaching positions in Madison, WI (where she was awarded the Golden Apple award), Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD. As Superintendent, Amy leads and manages the school leaders, the regional academic team, and the regional talent team.

Milton Rodriguez Vice President of Growth Strategy and Development

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Milton Rodriguez has over twenty years of nonprofit leadership and resource development experience focused primarily on funding youth development and educational programs. A native of Chicago and graduate of Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, he brings firsthand experience and knowledge of the challenges faced by many of Chicago’s youth and families, and strives to increase available economic and educational opportunities. Prior to joining KIPP Chicago, Milton was VP of Development at Chicago Scholars, where he successfully implemented a multi-year funding strategy that increased programmatic growth and doubled raised revenue.

Milton currently serves on the Board of Directors for the University of Michigan Latino Alumni Club, The Association of Fundraising Professionals – Chicago Chapter, and Enlace Chicago. He is also a Fellow of the City of Chicago Latino Caucus Foundation. Milton holds a BA and MSW from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MBA from Roosevelt University and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE).

Ellen Sale KIPP Bloom College Prep Principal

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Ellen Sale joined KIPP Chicago in 2013, after serving in the Mississippi delta as a Teach for America corps member, filling other programmatic and coaching roles in Teach for America nationally, and teaching five years at Noble Street Rauner College Prep, where she founded the AP World History program and led the network in annual sophomore reading growth. In 2010 she was honored as TFA Chicago Alumni Distinguished Teacher and chosen as a Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellow. She was awarded the Fisher Family Fellowship in 2012 and founded KIPP Bloom College Prep in 2013.

Michael Salmonowicz Chief Operating Officer

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Michael Salmonowicz is Chief Operating Officer at KIPP Chicago Schools, and is in his 10th year with KIPP. A Teach For America alumnus, he spent three years as a high school teacher in Chicago; was a researcher with the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago’s Consortium on School Research; and served as a consultant to New Leaders,, and school districts across the country. He was a Director of Operations, Data Analyst, and Managing Director of Operations at KIPP Chicago prior to taking on the role of Chief Operating Officer. Michael has helped KIPP Chicago double the number of students it serves over the past four years, and at the same time increase its attendance rate and maintain its exceptional compliance scores and audit results.

Jessica Valerio KIPP Academy Chicago Principal

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Jessica Valerio is the principal at KIPP Academy Chicago in the Austin neighborhood. Jessica began her teaching career as a 2011 Teach For America Corps Member on Chicago’s south side. In 2013, she joined KIPP Chicago teaching 5th Grade Math at KIPP Chicago’s west side middle school campus. In 2015, 100% of 5th grade students met their NWEA MAP growth goals in math, ranking #1 among KIPP classrooms nationally – and was awarded Teacher of the Year in KIPP Chicago. Jessica served as Grade Level Leader and Assistant Principal before being awarded the Miles Family Fellowship in 2017 and becoming the principal of KIPP Academy.

Billy Warden Head of Schools

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Billy Warden began his teaching career as a TFA Corps Member in 2009, teaching 8th Grade ELA at KIPP Ascend Middle School. In 2012, he won KIPP’s national Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award, and in 2013, 91% of his students met their NWEA MAP reading growth goals, which ranked #1 among KIPP classrooms nationally. He served as Grade Level Chair, Literacy Content Lead, and Assistant Principal before being awarded the Fisher Family Fellowship and founding KIPP Academy Chicago in fall 2016.

What is a Charter School?

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that work in collaboration with school districts. Enrollment is open to all students. Charter schools are independently operated and managed with more flexibility than traditional public schools in exchange for increased accountability.

The “charter” that establishes each school is a contract detailing the school’s mission, program, performance goals, and methods of assessment. The charter contract is an operating agreement between the charter school and an “authorizer”, which is responsible for holding charter schools accountable for compliance with their charter contract. An authorizer is an entity which , subject to state law, may be a district school board, university, Mayor’s office, or non-profit organization. KIPP Chicago’s authorizer is Chicago Public Schools.

What is a Charter School

Like all public schools, charter schools are:

  • Tuition-free and part of the free public school system
  • Held to state and federal academic standards
  • Open to all students, including those with disabilities
  • Funded primarily through a combination of federal, state, and local tax dollars
  • Not affiliated with or restricted to a particular religious group

All KIPP schools are public charter schools. And yet, not all public charter schools are like KIPP. KIPP is a non-profit network of 242 college-preparatory, public charter schools educating early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school students.

Learn More About Our Schools

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