Cultivating Identity Development Practices - KIPP Chicago Public Schools

The Whole Child Review Issue No. 4, September 2020

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Cultivating Identity Development Practices

Equity Training

Over 50 staff members, including School Leaders, senior leadership team members, Assistant Principals, and all direct managers, will participate in ongoing antiracist training this school year with Dr. Blanca Ruiz, who was one of the original Leading for Equity trainers, working with Executive Directors and the KIPP Foundation. When School Leaders and managers engage in personal reflection on internalized bias, they are better prepared to develop and implement actionable steps that move us toward becoming an antiracist organization.

The training description from Dr. Ruiz reads: Our focus will be on reflecting on how the standards and systems we have created have been internalized and are centered on whiteness. This internalization results in a community of individuals who feel the need to contort to fit in a crooked room1, never fully experiencing what it is to be whole selves. Through building content knowledge, engaging in small group reflection and dialogue, large group reflection and dialogue, and application through case studies and/or role plays, we will focus on addressing our own biases, experiences and beliefs so that we can move towards action and supporting the dialogue with one another and the youth we serve.

The McNair Fellowship

About the McNair Fellowship

The McNair Fellowship, named after Ronald Erwin McNair, an astronaut & physicist, is KIPP Chicago initiative that will increase the development & mentorship opportunities for emerging leaders of color, who identify as​ Black/African-American or Latinx/Hispanic. In development for two plus years, we are thrilled to share more about The McNair Fellowship with you. We will be announcing the fellowship members in the next Whole Child Review, so stay tuned!

Through a one year leadership development program, KIPP Chicago will assist leaders in leveraging their unique perspectives to affect broader change within our organization. The McNair Fellows, who have each been with KIPP Chicago for three or more years and have held a leadership position, will be given financial support to utilize for their own leadership acceleration. Individual pathways will include professional development, coaching/mentoring, and the development of school-based impact projects. Each path will be differentiated to meet the needs of The McNair Fellow. The fellowship is designed to elevate leaders to thrive in their roles and amplify the impact of their leadership in the evolution of our organization.

Why the fellowship is named after Ronald E. McNair

On January 28, 1986, McNair was one of seven astronauts killed in the tragic Challenger space shuttle launch. Prior to his death, McNair accumulated many accolades and educational degrees, including a Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1976 and four honorary doctorates.

Following McNair’s death, members of Congress provided funding for The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. The program encouraged low-income and first-generation college students and students from historically underrepresented ethnic groups to expand their educational opportunities by enrolling in a Ph.D. program, ultimately pursuing an academic career. Our McNair Fellowship program is dedicated to the high standards of achievement inspired by Dr. McNair’s life.

Pete Gooden, award winner and new role with KIPP Chicago

On July 30, our former Director of the KIPP Forward Program, Pete Gooden was awarded the 2020 KIPP Forward Excellence in Leadership Award by the national KIPP Forward team! We are grateful for Pete’s leadership within KIPP Chicago & across the KIPP network. Introducing Pete’s award, April Montgomery Goble said the following:

“He brings his own experience as a first generation high school and college graduate as he leads his team and supports our alumni. Under his leadership, he has garnered exceptional results…Because of his vision and leadership, 4 times the number of students (as compared to the number before his leadership) will attend the best public high schools in our city. Under his leadership, his team has become one of the highest performing in the network among regions without a high school. This year he will be taking on additional leadership responsibilities beyond KIPP Forward. He will be expanding his impact by leading our DEI efforts as our Vice President for Equity & Inclusion.”

We are thrilled for Pete to earn the recognition he deserves for his work with KIPP Forward and we look forward to his vision, leading KIPP Chicago to a more equitable, inclusive, and progressive organization.

Increase in Staff Members who identify as BIPOC

Seven years ago, 33% of the KIPP Chicago staff members were people of color. There was a general belief among us that our students and families would be best served by a much larger percentage than that. However, we also believed there weren’t enough licensed teachers of color available to fill our vacancies. Only 20% of teachers nationwide are people of color and over the last 30 years, the number of students of color has increased at a greater rate than the number of teachers of color. Still, we examined our data and hiring practices and identified what was within our control to change. We committed ourselves to an equitable selectivity rate across races/ethnicities and designed practices to ensure our desirable outcomes.

The result was an incremental increase each year in hiring teachers of color. After 7 years of increases, we’re proud to share that this year, 65% of our staff members are people of color, almost double the percentage from 7 years ago. More specifically, this year our teaching staff became majority Black, with 53% of our teachers identifying as Black, compared to the local average of 21%. We’re also in the midst of a severe national teacher shortage, with 50% fewer teachers graduating college each year compared to 15 years ago. Our success in hiring against these local, national, and historical trends is outstanding and is evidence of our fierce commitment to our mission and families, the value of reflection in our staff culture, the talent of our leaders, and the strength of our data-based approach to all our work.


Together for Justice is a tool you can use to build knowledge and self-awareness, and take steps to make a difference. This resource center highlights the work KIPP is doing to fight racism and injustice within our own community and includes articles, books, podcasts, and more that provide background on race and racism in America. It houses materials educators can use to prepare for discussions about race and equity with students and it outlines steps we all can take to support the movement for racial and social justice.

Voting Matters!

KIPP has partnered with When We All Vote, Michelle Obama’s voter registration initiative, to make sure students, staff, and communities are prepared to cast their ballots this fall. Watch this video and sign up here to support the “My School Votes” Program partnership with KIPP.

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