Our History

KIPP Philadelphia Schools opened its doors with a single flagship middle school on July 14, 2003 under the direction of Marc Mannella, with support from a community coalition of parents and business leaders and a dedicated group of founding teachers. Hartranft Community Center provided a temporary location for the founding class of 90 fifth grade students at the corner of 8th and Cumberland in North Philadelphia. The following year the school kept their founding students as 6th graders and brought in a new fifth grade class. Outgrowing the community center, the school moved to a more permanent location in North Philadelphia.

Since then, KIPP Philadelphia Schools has opened three additional schools in North and West Philadelphia and plans to expand to ten schools. See more on our expansion.

KIPP Philadelphia Schools is part of a nationwide network of public charter schools. Having started as a single fifth grade classroom program in Houston, Texas, the national KIPP network has grown to 183 schools in 20 states and Washington D.C., serving over 70,000 students.


In 1994, two teachers, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, launched a fifth grade public school program in Houston, Texas after completing their work with Teach For America. Their goal: do “whatever it takes” to help students develop their character and academic skills for college and life. They believed that high expectations coupled with creativity, rigor and sustained student, parent and teacher commitment could generate transformational results for kids in schools in underserved communities. Mike and Dave named their program KIPP – the Knowledge is Power Program.

In 1995, they decided to expand. Mike remained in Houston to lead KIPP Academy Middle School; Dave and his colleague Frank Corcoran established KIPP Academy in the South Bronx. Sixteen years later, KIPP has grown into a national network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools with a track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life. For more information on the KIPP network, visit http://www.kipp.org.