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Supporting Every KIPP Graduate: Step Inside our KIPP Through College and Career Program

KIPP Through College and Career Director Kyla Kenny and her team have one ambitious mission: To ensure every graduate of KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy middle schools and our KIPP High School has an opportunity to succeed in college and career.

For the past four years, Kenny and her team have worked with over 300 middle school students and middle school graduates on every aspect of preparing for their future.  “We support every student, it doesn’t matter whether they’re in our classrooms anymore. Our counselors assist with everything from academic advising, to tutoring, to skill-building. We even work with their placement high schools to ensure students are making academic progress,” said Kenny.

The program is available to students whether or not they opt for a college or career path. “Breaking into the Camden workforce can be difficult for a young person, but we’ve connected several students to technical training that will help them gain connections and certifications in different fields, and we hope to have 25 rising sophomores at KIPP High School placed in internships at local companies this summer,” said Kenny. Over the past four years, the program has developed formal and informal community partnerships that help students access opportunity.

One connection the KTC&C program is particularly excited about is their partnership with Hopeworks. Hopeworks is a career and technical education (CTE) program that works to train and place Camden youth in internships at local companies like Subaru of America and Campbell’s Soup Company. “Our goal is that by the time our KIPP High School students are juniors, they’ll have the opportunity to intern at a local company or enroll in classes at a local community college and receive course credit,” said Kenny.

A graduate of KIPP Lanning Square Middle, Jahani Boateng completed a 6-week Hopeworks CTE program, where he studied website design and learned basic programming skills like HTML and Javascript. After this course, Jahani interned for Hopeworks’ Youth Healing Team, which supports Camden schools as they develop trauma-informed practices. He helped the team prepare and make presentations to the schools about the organization’s practices.

“My counselor, Kate Esposito, connected me to Hopeworks. I wasn’t sure whether I would like it at first, but I wound up really enjoying it. Now, my goal is to study computer science and website design further,” he said.  This spring, Jahani enrolled in courses in computer science at Camden County Community College.

“The KTC team gave Jahani a lot of opportunities he might not have otherwise had, from SAT training to college visits,” said Jahani’s mom, Nicole Scott.

KIPP Lanning Square Middle Graduate Zhamina Faulkner also worked closely with her KTC&C KIPP Through College counselor, Kris Smith, as she approached her college search this year. A senior at Creative Arts Morgan VIllage Academy, Faulkner hopes to become an actress. “Working with Mr. Smith has been very cool. Being the youngest in my family meant that it had been a while since my mom had gone through the college process, so my counselor helped me stay on track as I applied to ten schools, completed the FAFSA and explored my options,” said Faulkner. “It would have been way more stressful without him,” she added.

Her hard work paid off. Faulkner received an early acceptance from Barnard College last year, where she intends to major in theater and eventually become a screen actress. “Barnard was my number one school. I wanted a small school feel and to find a sisterhood,” she said.

Interested in learning more about what services KIPP Through College can offer students? Reach out to Kyla Kenny at kkenny@kippnj.org.