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 3,100 students in grades K-8 from the south and west sides of Chicago. Our campuses are located in the Austin, Englewood, North Lawndale, and West Humboldt Park neighborhoods. KIPP Chicago also advises 1,400 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
alumni

Senior Staff

Rashid Bell Principal, KIPP One Primary

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Rashid Bell joined KIPP Chicago in 2011 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, NJ. In the 14-15 school year, he led the fifth-grade students at KIPP Ascend Primary to achieve 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. Rashid has helped lead KIPP One to three consecutive Level 1+ ratings, and two consecutive years as the highest-ranked public school in the city of Chicago.

Tessa Catlett Principal, KIPP Bloom Primary

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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 14-15 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 15-16 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 Principal, KIPP Ascend Middle School

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Rebecca Cowell is School Leader of KIPP Ascend Middle School. Rebecca joined KIPP Chicago in 2005 as a science teacher at KIPP Ascend, and in subsequent years designed the school’s science curriculum, taught at each grade level 5-8, and served as a Grade Level Chair and Department Chair. She was the founding 9th grade biology Teacher at KIPP LEAD College Prep HS in Gary, IN before returning to KIPP Ascend as a Teacher, Department Chair, and regional Curriculum Developer. Rebecca then served as an Assistant Principal for four years and took on the role of Principal in 2019.

Marquita Curry Principal, KIPP Ascend Primary Upper School

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Marquita Curry is School Leader of KIPP Ascend Primary Upper School. Marquita joined KIPP Chicago in 2018 as an Instructional Coach with KIPP Academy Chicago, contributing to the school’s Level 1+ rating. The next year, she helped found KIPP Academy Chicago Primary as School Leader Resident. She previously was a Teach for America corps member in New Orleans, LA; a Dean and Instructional Coach with ReNEW Schools; and an Assistant Principal with the Learn Charter School Network in Chicago.

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 beginning her 12th year as Executive Director. The region has received numerous accolades, including being recognized as the district’s highest performing school network for three consecutive years.

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.

Peter Gooden Vice President for Equity & Inclusion

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Peter Gooden is KIPP Chicago’s Vice President for Equity & Inclusion. He joined KIPP Chicago in 2010 as the Director of Alumni Services, and spent the past 4 years as the Director of KIPP Through College. In that role he managed the KTC team to support high school access & persistence, college placement & persistence, and career advancement for 1,500 KIPP Chicago alumni. Previously, Peter spent years working with KIPP NYC as the KTC Alumni counselor and with the University of Chicago Charter School as the 6to16 Advisor, where he helped to develop lessons for the 6to16 curriculum and created a higher education culture at Carter G. Wilson Middle School. As a first generation US citizen, high school graduate, and college graduate, Peter has worked tirelessly to support equity and accessibility in higher education.

Jennifer Hodges Director of the Whole Child Fund

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Jennifer 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 Principal, KIPP Academy Chicago Primary

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Jarell Lee 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 Principal 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 Head of Academics

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Ken Lee joined KIPP Chicago in 2011 as a 6th grade ELA Teacher after serving as a Teach for America corps member and teaching for three years at Perspectives Math & Science Academy. His students grew an average of 3.1 years in each of those years. He also served as Literacy Content Team Lead and Assistant Principal at KIPP Ascend Middle School before being awarded the Fisher Family Fellowship in 2014 and founding KIPP One Academy in 2016. Ken helped lead KIPP One to three consecutive Level 1+ ratings, and two consecutive years as the highest-ranked public school in the city of Chicago, before stepping into his current role as Head of Academics.

Jessica Olowoyo Principal, KIPP Ascend Primary Lower School

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Jessica Olowoyo is School Leader of KIPP Ascend Primary Lower School. She spent the past six years with KIPP Memphis as a regional Instructional Coach, founding Assistant Principal, and most recently, Principal of KIPP Memphis Academy Elementary. Prior to that, Jessica was a Teacher at elementary schools in Knoxville, TN and Norcross, GA, and also spent a number of years as a Family Therapist. Jessica earned her BA in Psychology from Tennessee State University and her MA in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University.

Whitney Paul Principal, KIPP One Academy

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Whitney Paul is School Leader of KIPP One Academy. She previously served as an Assistant Principal, Grade Level Chair, Department Chair, and Founding Teacher at KIPP One, helping lead the school to three consecutive Level 1+ ratings and two consecutive years as the highest-ranked public school in the city of Chicago. Before coming to KIPP Chicago, Whitney spent four years as a Teacher and Grade Level Chair at KIPP McDonogh 15 in New Orleans, LA and was a Teach for America corps member in Jacksonville, FL.

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 as Assistant Principal and then Principal. 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 for three consecutive years while growing the region from 2 to 8 schools. Prior to her time with 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 leader team and the regional academic and talent teams.

Milton Rodriguez Vice President of Growth Strategy & 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 Head of Talent

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Ellen Sale joined KIPP Chicago in 2013 after serving in the Mississippi delta as a Teach for America corps member, holding programmatic and coaching roles with 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, founded KIPP Bloom College Prep in 2013, and served as Principal for 7 years. Prior to becoming KIPP Chicago’s Head of Talent, Ellen led KIPP Bloom to a Level 1+ rating in consecutive years.

Michael Salmonowicz Vice President of Operations

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Michael Salmonowicz is KIPP Chicago’s Vice President of Operations, and is in his 11th 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, DonorsChoose.org, and school districts across the country. He was a Director of Finance & Operations, Data Analyst, Managing Director of Operations, and COO at KIPP Chicago prior to taking on his current role. Michael has helped double the number of students KIPP Chicago serves over the past four years, and at the same time increase its attendance rate and maintain its exceptional compliance scores and audit results. As Vice President of Operations, Michael leads the regional finance, operations, HR, and data teams.

Lindsey Spears Principal, KIPP Bloom College Prep

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Lindsey Spears is School Leader of KIPP Bloom College Prep. She spent five years as KBCP’s Founding Assistant Principal and most recently served as School Leader Resident. Previously, Lindsey was a Teacher and Peer Leader at KIPP Ascend Middle School and KIPP Ascend Primary, and a Teacher Recruiter & Curriculum Specialist with KIPP Chicago’s regional team. Lindsey has a BS in Communication from Ohio University and an MA in Teaching from Dominican University.

Catrina Thomas Director of KIPP Through College

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Catrina Clayton joined KIPP Chicago in 2012 and is Director of KIPP Through College. In this role, she leads the 11-person KTC team that supports more than 1,500 KIPP Chicago students and alumni in 8th grade, high school, and college. Previously, she led KIPP Chicago’s High School Transition Team, was a High School Transition Advisor with KIPP Ascend, and was a Guidance Counselor and Special Education Case Manager with other schools in and around Chicago.

Jessica Valerio Principal, KIPP Academy Chicago

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Jessica Valerio is the School Leader 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 Academy. In 2015, 100% of her 5th grade students met their NWEA MAP growth goals in math, ranking #1 among KIPP classrooms nationally – and she was awarded Teacher of the Year in KIPP Chicago. Jessica served as Grade Level Chair and Assistant Principal before being awarded the Miles Family Fellowship in 2017 and becoming the principal of KIPP Academy in 2019.

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 the 15-16 school year. Billy transitioned to the Head of Schools role after serving as KIPP Academy’s Principal for 4 years and leading the school to a Level 1+ rating in three consecutive years.

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

Reminder: No school November 3rd as we observe the Voting Holiday