In 2002, KIPP New Jersey opened its first school in Newark’s south ward. The network is now comprised of eleven schools located throughout the city of Newark and three new schools in Camden. Through its Team Academy Charter Schools, KIPP NJ has added significant strength to Newark’s public education landscape. Early indicators suggest that KIPP NJ will also have a meaningful long-term impact in Camden.
In 2012, the New Jersey Urban HOPE Act was signed into law. The legislation authorized the formation of partnerships between public school districts in Trenton, Camden and Newark and selected high performing charter networks to operate a subset of local public schools. Passage of the legislation was propelled by chronic and persistently low proficiency rates on state tests in the three affected cities. In Camden, three charter networks, among them KIPP NJ, were selected to establish Renaissance Schools, neighborhood schools that operate as a public charter schools. KIPP’s current Camden operations include four Renaissance schools in three facilities. Additional locations will be added over time.
The introduction of Renaissance schools has contributed to consistent gains in Camden’s state test outcomes. As recently as 2014, the City’s traditional public schools had proficiency outcomes on state tests of less than 10% for 3rd – 8th grade students. Within two years, the KIPP proficiency results exceeded 20% for almost every grade level. Middle school English Language Arts proficiency was particularly strong and ranged from 31% content mastery for the 6th grade to 47% for the 7th grade. According to a recent report by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, in its City Studies Project, in both reading and math in 2015-16 and 2016-17, students attending Camden traditional public schools underperformed the state. Camden Renaissance schools grew similarly to the state average in 2015-16 and outperformed the state in 2016-17 in reading. In math, Camden Renaissance schools made gains similar to the state average in both 2015-16 and 2016-17.
CDT and its financing partner, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, provided long-term, first- mortgage financing of $16,640,000 for the development of a 65,300 SF facility for KIPP Whittier Middle school. KIPP Whittier was awarded a charter in 2013. The CDT/LISC loan refinanced the Goldman Sachs construction financing. Subordinate long-term financing was provided by Blue Hub Capital and The Charter School Growth Fund. The interest rate on the permanent financing was committed, during construction, a full twelve months in advance of closing to protect the transaction from interest rate risk during construction. At full enrollment, KIPP Whittier Middle will serve 436 students in grades 5 – 8.