Increasing Family and Community Partnerships - KIPP Chicago Public Schools

The Whole Child Review Issue No. 10, October 2022

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Increasing Family and Community Partnerships

Detroit Wellness Fair 

Our sister region, KIPP Detroit Imani Academy (KDIA), opened its doors to beautiful kindergarteners this year. To help families prepare for the new school year, Detroit Superintendent, Candace Rogers, and the entire KDIA team introduced the school to Detroit’s Cody Rouge community with a vibrant community wellness fair.

During the two-day fair on August 24th and 25th, approximately 15 vendors and community organizations provided wellness services for 300 community members, including KIPP families, across three generations.  

  • One Sight provided free vision screenings for 102 children and 143 adults. Of those screened, 90% needed and received glasses. We even had some news coverage.
  • Forgotten Harvest provided 126 boxes of fresh fruits and produce to community members.
  • Wayne State Medical van provided parents and grandparents with blood pressure checks and comprehensive health screenings.
  • Local hair stylist, Daniella Wallace, provided free haircuts and braiding services for more than 40 children, so they could start their first day feeling fresh and confident.
  • Children played games, jumped rope, and ate all the ice cream they could.
  • Beautiful community artwork was created by attendees that will hang inside the school to commemorate the event. 

This event was possible due to an amazing group of collaborators. Superintendent Candace Rogers and VP of Whole Child and Community Partnerships, Jennifer Hodges, co-created the vision. Former KIPP Chicago team member Erin Delaney led operations and logistics alongside VP of Impact & Innovation, Mariah Schroeder, who led project management, and KDIA teachers and Executive Director, April Montgomery, brought volunteerism and joy.

KAC & KACP Community Back to School Bash 

Our KIPP Academy Middle and Primary school campuses took their annual Back-to-School Bash to new heights this year. Sponsored by 10-year veteran linebacker and former Chicago Bears player Danny Trevathan, this partnership was rooted in community empowerment, outdoor play, and fun. This is Danny’s second engagement with KIPP Chicago to promote student well-being and joy on the heels of COVID-19, with a deep commitment to the Austin community.

The Back-to-School Bash was a joint event between KAC and KACP to welcome returning families and recruit new students. Approximately 300 people attended the event, and the entire community had a great time dancing, playing games, taking pictures, eating, and celebrating.  This was also a time to celebrate and welcome Camille Allen, KAC’s new Principal. Camille was promoted to the role after many years of service as a KAC teacher and Assistant Principal. Thanks to Danny’s sponsorship, students had access to game trucks, bounce houses, fun giveaways, free school supplies, catered lunch, games, and photography.

Danny Trevathan, on partnering with KIPP:

I’d previously supported programs on the south side, so I wanted to extend my reach to other city corners. So many kids could use a smile right now. Students have spent a lot of time on technology over the last couple of years, bringing face-to-face engagement down. There is power in reconnecting and having fun. When you’re excited and enthusiastic, that energy transfers to the classroom. If you can enjoy playing together, you can enjoy learning together. I appreciate KIPP’s focus on the Whole Child; it feels aligned with the supports and interventions that mattered to me as a kid. I just want to do my part. 


Penn Foster Program Celebration 

Penn Foster offers career-focused diplomas, degrees, and certificates to help people take the first steps toward their next career. KIPP Chicago is proud to have sponsored two cohorts of Penn Foster students to earn their high school diplomas. We are proud to announce that we had four graduates over the summer. Because of their dedication and commitment to their education, and with the support and leadership of their facilitator, these graduates completed the program within six months. We are so proud of each of our graduates and our facilitators. Please learn more about one of our facilitators, Tiffany Sommerio, and one of our first graduates, Matthew Walton. 

Meet Tiffany Sommerio
KIPP Ascend Primary, Penn Foster Facilitator 

Tiffany Sommerio, Penn Foster Facilitator

Rep your school AND how you define yourself beyond your title. 

On the campus of KIPP Ascend Primary, I am the Department Chair of the Diverse Learning team, 2nd-3rd grade Diverse Learning teacher, mentor teacher, and Penn Foster Facilitator. I am confident that KIPP Ascend Primary is the best school in the North Lawndale area and by far the best school I have had the pleasure of teaching. My home life consists of being a wife, mother, and paw parent. In my leisure, I am a doctoral learner who has dedicated my career to disability studies focusing on ableism and social justice for people with physical and mental impairments. I define myself as an African American woman doing transformative work through education.

In addition to your role at KIPP Ascend Primary, you serve as a Penn Foster Facilitator. You are helping a cohort of five adults earn their high school diplomas. Describe a position you’ve held or experiences you’ve had that have prepared you for this role. 

My work as a social worker has prepared me for this role the most. I was a part of an adult cohort and tried to replicate the camaraderie and motivation I felt while in a cohort of like-minded individuals. After graduating from college with a BA in social work, I helped families in the Englewood area of Chicago find resources for economic, social, and educational advancement. During this role, I also developed a love for education and started my journey to becoming a teacher. 

Where have you experienced the most pride, joy, or resilience in leading this cohort within your community?

I find my pride in knowing that I come from a marginalized community in Chicago and can utilize my knowledge to assist people from similar situations. I find joy in knowing that I may inspire my Penn foster cohort to help others beyond my reach. Finally, I find my resilience in my ancestors, who were forbidden an education, knowing that I must stand in the gaps for as many people as possible.

As an educator, how do you make space for students to tell their stories and see themselves in the instruction? Ex. windows and mirrors (developing identity, exposure to others identities and cultures) 

As an educator, I ensure texts serve as both mirrors and windows. For a meaningful reading experience, I present my student with materials that display our intersectionality represented through stories, poems, and informational texts. I try to find reputable sources that reflect factual, current, and historical people, places, and events. I enjoy finding books and resources that are genuine and authentic to the culture and the human experience through diverse people telling their stories. As well as ensuring images support diversity and language choice. 

What is one thing you’d like our readers to know about our community?

I want people to know that KIPP Chicago is the place for your family if you have had an adverse experience with an educational institution. We send four key expectation messages explicitly and implicitly at all times, so families feel supported and known. 1. This is important 2. You can do it. 3. I won’t give up on you. and 4. You belong here. I believe that offering programs such as Penn Foster to our families and community is a testament to the abovementioned expectation.

Meet Matthew Walton
Penn Foster Graduate, Proud North Lawndale Community Member


Please tell us what you do and how you define yourself beyond your work or title. 

I currently work as an EVS Tech. Outside work, I would define myself as a loving and devoted father and husband.

Please share with us your motivation for earning your high school diploma.

My motivation for earning my high school diploma would be providing a more consistent lifestyle for my family and being more confident in not only the jobs I go after but jobs that I accept.

Matthew, you are one of our first graduates in the program —congratulations! Please share how earning your diploma impacts your life. What changes do you anticipate? 

Earning my diploma has impacted my life by allowing me to achieve a goal I let slip away from me in my youth. I anticipate better opportunities in the future and abundance for my family. 

Where have you experienced your most pride, joy, or resilience in yourself and being a part of this program? 

I am proud to attain my high school diploma in about 100 days. I could set a goal and complete said goal through the motivation of family, friends, and the staff at KIPP/Penn Foster. My diploma was in my mailbox in less than a week. I found joy in knowing that better days are ahead for my family and me. Being a part of this program wasn’t by chance. I had researched Penn Foster’s high school diploma program in the past, and when I received the flyer from KIPP about the same program for free, I felt blessed to make it through the interview process and all the learning modules.  

What is one thing you’d like our readers to know about our community?

I want everyone to know that I am thankful. Allowing others to assist me in creating a better future was hard (I usually go at things like this on my own), but it was worth it. I would find myself so motivated to finish the lessons that the system would prompt me to slow down. I was so excited to log into the student portal and learn something new every day, and I thank KIPP/Penn Foster for considering me in the selection process. You all have my sincerest gratitude.



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