January 28, 2021
By: Cameron Franklin, KIPP Atlanta Collegiate alumnus and president of the KIPP Metro Atlanta Alumni Association
To be a true KIPP Alum, I believe you must fight to amplify the voices in our communities. That’s why when the KIPP Foundation asked me to participate in creating the National KIPP Alumni Network, I jumped at the chance.
Last December, KIPP announced the launch of the first-of-its-kind National Alumni Network focused on supporting career advancement, entrepreneurship, networking, and mental health services for more than 30,000 alumni like me. A number that will increase to 80,000 alumni by 2025. This is a network that has been created by and is run by KIPP alumni so we can help each other today and tomorrow.
I was part of a team of 12 alumni design fellows who came together to come up with ideas for the network. It was amazing to get together with fellow alumni around the nation, only to see that we had so much in common too. We also used data to build it. In a survey of close to 5,000 alumni, 75% ranked personal finance resources, more connections to successful people in their fields, and turning entrepreneurial ideas into businesses, as types of support they needed the most. Alumni also expressed a need for mental health resources to support them through their journey. More than half of the respondents (51%) said they would like to mentor another student at KIPP, which speaks volumes about my fellow KIPP alumni and their willingness to give back to their communities.
The data only validated what I had seen in my circle of friends. I had KIPP alumni friends who no matter what college they went to or how hard they tried to look for a job – they lacked connections, or business contacts to really get the job they wanted. This network is going to create a business directory of KIPP alumni so we can lift each other up in career and open the doors to new opportunities. Regional associations and career affinity groups will also help all of us stay connected. As the President of the KIPP Metro Atlanta Alumni Association, I plan to create an organization that other alumni associations could look up to as a guiding light. Here in Atlanta, I believe we have the unique opportunity to strengthen our community, support our young KIPPsters, and bring innovative ideas to KIPP Metro Atlanta.
It’s all about supporting alumni where they are, so KIPP joined forces with YUPRO, an award-winning placement and coaching organization specializing in historically underrepresented talent, to create a pilot program focused on supporting KIPP alumni who do not have a college degree with coaching and job placement.
When you are a first-generation student – there is no one at home who can help you with your resume or give you interview skills. So part of the suite of programs for the network also includes a partnership with Braven, where KIPP alumni this summer attended the Braven Career Booster Program, a 2-week virtual Career Accelerating Bootcamp for KIPP alumni who are recent college graduates. It covered topics including building your LinkedIn profile, interviewing for jobs, networking, and more.
One of the things about the network is that is also focusing on our well-being. Starting this year, KIPP will partner with AYANA Mental Health to provide free mental health counseling services for alumni. This comes at a time when many of us alumni, who are predominantly African American and Latinx, have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and experienced trauma from the recent shootings of Black men and women nationwide. Asking for help is never easy – but this program will make it much more accessible.
One of the goals for the National KIPP Alumni Network is to have 1,000 KIPP alumni in positions of power by 2040. And I know, being part of this network, will help me be one of those alumni.