What is the Whole Child? - KIPP Chicago Public Schools

The Whole Child Review Issue No. 1, October 2019

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What is the Whole Child?

KIPP Chicago’s mission has always been to create joyful, academically excellent schools that prepare students with the skills and confidence to pursue the paths they choose, from college to career, and beyond, so they can lead fulfilling lives and create a more just world. The reality of a 21st century environment requires us to create an educational environment that nurtures various aspects of student learning and wellbeing, addressing the whole child.


The Whole Child Initiative (WCI) is KIPP Chicago’s next iteration of growth. It embraces a whole child ethos, which ensures each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

It will also focus on supporting staff, family, and community health and wellbeing.

For the last three years, KIPP Chicago has been the highest performing network of schools in Chicago, with one of our schools being named the highest performing school in the district. KIPP Chicago has achieved these academic outcomes while simultaneously increasing the number of students served by 200%. This year, KIPP Chicago opened our 8th school, KIPP Academy Chicago Primary. In four years we will reach full scale, when we will serve nearly 4,000 students in four communities on the South and West Sides.

As we continue the practices that ensure academic success, we are launching our Whole Child Initiative with seven priorities to address student, family, and staff wellbeing.

Whole Child Initiative Seven Priorities

Increasing family and community partnerships. We are excited to launch programs to deepen our partnerships with KIPP Chicago families and the communities where we teach. A cohort of parents will pursue their High School diplomas, our Children’s Museum of Art and Social Justice (CMASJ) will host a series of parent specific workshops, and we will continue to expand our community partnerships.

Embracing an inclusive and challenging curriculum. We are embracing an inclusive and challenging curriculum with the expansion of a regional Social Justice Fair, the development of a Critical Race History course, and the adoption of a new LGBTQ Inclusion Curriculum. We are also prioritizing meaningful writing curricula that equips our students to harness the art of storytelling.

Sharing resources from our Children’s Museum of Art and Social Justice (CMASJ). Our Children’s Museum of Art and Social Justice will continue to collaborate with all art classrooms and after school art programs across KIPP Chicago to create four social justice themed art shows per school year. The CMASJ also manages each school’s Passion Project, which provides opportunities for students to engage in the visual arts, music, dance, theater, and sports.

Integrating social and emotional learning. Social and Emotional Learning will be integrated through mindfulness pilots, the hiring of a Director of Wellbeing and Family Engagement at each campus, and the inclusion of a framework and toolkit from the Yale Institute’s Ruler program.

Cultivating identity development practices. Two key initiatives to promote identity development are The McNair Leadership Fellowship, designed to support a cohort of Leaders of Color to thrive in management roles, and the increase of positive identity affirming imagery at each school.

Addressing food insecurities. Our approach to achieving food security for our students and families is to offer food pantries at each KIPP campus and to continue exploring partnerships with healthy food providers.

Enhancing teacher wellbeing. We are enhancing staff holistic wellbeing by providing free wellness workshops at the CMASJ, free financial advising, identifying a variety of discounted health and wellness partners and conducting mindfulness trainings to benefit overall classroom experience.

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