Our Story

KIPP DC aspires to improve life outcomes for the next generation of Washingtonians by equipping students and alumni with the knowledge, skills, and mindsets to become thoughtful, intentional citizens in the competitive world and lead successful lives full of choice and opportunity.



In 2001, founder Susan Schaeffler and a team of dedicated educators established KIPP DC’s first school, KIPP DC KEY Academy, in a church basement in Southeast Washington, D.C. Since then, KIPP DC has maintained excellence while scaling from 80 students in one middle school to 6,300 KIPPsters—PreK all the way through twelfth grade—in 16 schools across the District.

KIPP DC began by educating middle school students, but we soon realized that even by fifth grade, the learning gap was too large and we needed to reach students earlier. To most effectively prepare our students for success in school and in life, we decided to add early childhood and elementary schools at each campus. Since then, we have seen a tremendous difference in the students who received the entirety of their education at KIPP DC.

The KIPP DC Difference

We believe that all students can learn and achieve at high levels if given the opportunity. Our success is driven by:

  • High Expectations

    We set clearly defined and measurable high expectations for academic achievement and conduct in order to create and reinforce a culture of achievement and support. We know that every student is different and we personalize learning based on a student’s needs, skills, and interests.

  • Strength of Character

    Success in life depends on both academics and character. We help students foster character strengths that are essential for their own success and well-being. And we empower them to express their voice with power and to improve the world around them.

  • Highly Effective Teachers and Leaders

    Great schools require great teachers and school leaders. We empower our educators to lead school teams, and we invest in training to help them grow as professionals.

  • Safe, Structured, and Nurturing Environments

    Students need physical and emotional safety in order to take risks and learn from their successes and their mistakes. Our schools provide a safe, structured, and nurturing environment with minimal distractions and more time for both academics and extracurriculars, so our students love school and maximize their learning.

  • KIPP Through College & Career

    Our counselors and advisors support students as they prepare for and select the right college and career for their needs and interests. After high school, we help KIPP alumni navigate the social, academic, and financial challenges they might encounter while in college.

A History of Success

Learn more about KIPP DC’s impact in the District of Columbia.

Frst Responsive Timeline

KEY Academy Opens


at Garden Memorial Presbyterian Church in Anacostia with 80 5th graders.

Frst Responsive Timeline

KEY Academy Grows


to 160 5th & 6th graders and moves to the Blue Castle on M Street, SE

Frst Responsive Timeline

KEY Academy earns the highest scores


of all charter middle schools in Washington D.C.

Frst Responsive Timeline

AIM Academy Opens


with 500 students enrolled at KIPP DC. KIPP DC Through College founded and KIPP DC Headquarters office Opens

Frst Responsive Timeline

LEAP Academy opens


with over 1,000 students enrolled at KIPP DC.

Frst Responsive Timeline

KIPP DC Benning Campus opens


at 5801 Benning Road SE.

Frst Responsive Timeline

Discover Academy, Promise Academy, and KIPP DC College Preparatory Opens


Founding class graduates high school. Capital Teaching Residency Partnership begins.

Frst Responsive Timeline

Grow Academy Opens


with 2,000 students enrolled at KIPP DC.

Frst Responsive Timeline

Height Academy Opens


KIPP DC releases first college completion report.

Frst Responsive Timeline

Lead Academy Opens


at the Shaw Campus dedication ceremony. Michelle Obama visist our Douglas Campus.

Frst Responsive Timeline

Connect Academy and Spring Academy Opens


at the renovated KIPP DC Webb Campus on Mount Olivet Road NE

Frst Responsive Timeline

Northeast Academy, Art & Technology Academy, and Quest Academy Opens


Frst Responsive Timeline

New College Preparatory Campus and Valor Academy Opens


The Learning Center Opens at the Douglas Campus. Jennifer Ramacciotti named OSSE 2015 Teacher of the Year! KCP Principal Jessica Cunningham wins Milken Educator Award and $25,000.

Frst Responsive Timeline

5,700 students enrolled at KIPP DC


Smilow Campus is dedicated in honor of Joel E. Smilow.