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KIPP New Jersey Stands With Our Communities

We’ve Always Been Committed to Supporting Our Team and Family—and It’s Never Been So Important.

When Coronavirus (COVID-19) arrived in the U.S late this January, our community came together immediately to help each other stay healthy—and continue learning.

But even before COVID-19, our schools have shared a commitment to giving back to communities in Camden and Newark.Learn more below about how our students and teachers joined together this school year to impact change in their neighborhoods—and how we continued to work together to support student learning and health in the wake of COVID-19.

From checking in on academic mastery through FaceTime calls with their teachers, to hosting canned food drives—our scholars are learning first-hand the importance of working together when times get hard.

KIPP Lanning Square Middle School Supported Our Community in Camden…

  • ‘The Cadre,’ KIPP Lanning Square Middle’s student leadership committee, gathered toiletries and donated care packages to Joseph House, a local shelter.  Each homeroom was assigned a product to bring and scholars collected them from each classroom daily—with a reward for the class that brought in the most supplies. Cadre members then created care packages which were driven directly to the shelter and distributed!
  • At a Saturday School in March, students completed a neighborhood cleanup. Each team was given a specific route and map of where to work—some scholars went to local parks and cleaned up litter and yard waste. Sixth graders worked with the Lanning Square West Residents Association to plant flowers at a local park!
  • Fifth grade scholars made homemade dog treats out of pumpkin and oats for the dogs at the Homeward Bound Pet Adoption Center.  

And so did KIPP Whittier Middle’s Girl Scout Troop with the guidance of math teacher Mercedes Telly!

  • In the fall of 2019,  the girls attended the Greater Philly Breast Cancer Walk that took place right in Camden at the Cooper River Park. 
  • On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, they visited St. John’s Baptist Church and helped other community members pack lunches for senior citizens and the homeless. 
  • They created baby blankets for a February baby shower hosted at ‘The Neighborhood Center,’ a local women’s shelter.  
  • “What I like about community service is helping the community and making a change in the world so we can make it a better place!” said Whittier sixth-grader Amira Andrews. 

KIPP Seek Academy and KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy put Newark in the spotlight for community service this year, too. 

At KIPP Seek Academy…

  • First-grade teacher Christine Romanos wanted to bring together students and families to serve the community—and get to know each other at the same time. They organized a Thanksgiving food drive where teachers and students made sandwiches and collected canned goods. First-grade teacher Ms. Eason reached out to Newark-based chef Samad Phelps, who made soup and dessert. The canned goods, sandwiches, soup, and dessert were then distributed to anyone in need in the community. At Christmas, the school came together again to organize a coat drive to keep families warm through the winter. 
  • The school established a ‘Snack Shack’ which sold snacks and drinks during dismissal on Wednesdays—with all proceeds used to pay off outstanding lunch balances from the Seek Academy community families!
  • Students received free haircuts at a local barbershop—while their teachers read them a book! The result was a love of reading—and lots of attention for a local business.

At KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy

  • Community service became a graduation requirement for students this year—a reflection of the fact that service is a part of our DNA as at KIPP NJ! Latoya Gadsden headed up a Saturday School service day event where students partnered with the American Jump Rope for Heart Foundation. Students jumped rope in their advisory for 10 minutes each day while learning about heart health—and at one Saturday school, students came together for a jump rope competition led by KIPP NCA’s student athlete leaders, a teacher vs. student volleyball game, and an award ceremony. “The event made me realize that students need to see that community service is not always a daunting experience—it can be fun and rewarding,” said Gadsden. 

When it became clear the COVID-19 was a serious threat to public health—KIPP NJ partnered with families to make sure our community was doing its part to flatten the curve—and keep students learning! 

In the first two weeks of remote learning, we deployed 5,000 laptops, more than 10,400 meals through grocery delivery and meal distribution at our sites—and teachers spent over 8,000 hours on the phone coaching students. Social workers continued their critical work during this difficult time, and counseling continued via 480 hours of phone consultations with students.

Our alumni were also impacted and many required alternative housing, laptops to continue online learning, transportation back home, books, and even food. Our KIPP Through College Team stepped up to provide our alumni what they needed to continue their journey to and through college.

Here are some practical and creative social media highlights from our early adventures in remote learning—and our community service initiatives throughout the year:  

KIPP Whittier Girl Scouts make baby blankets for a February baby shower hosted at ‘The Neighborhood Center,’ a local women’s shelter.

KIPP Upper Roseville Academy keeps students engaged in math learning via Instagram Stories.

Many teachers planned read-aloud to help students keep reading in quarantine!

Staying connected means plenty of smiles over FaceTime!

By The Numbers: Here’s what our community accomplished—just two weeks into our school building closures.