Case #1847.0

The KIPP Schools: Deciding How to Go to Scale

Publication Date: August 11, 2006
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When Michael Feinberg and Dan Levin established their fledgling Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) school in Houston in the early 1990s, they hoped only to prove in their own school that a highly-structured and demanding program could lift the academic performance of disadvantaged students. Little more than 10 years later, however, the name KIPP and the approach they had honed had become an education "brand name," used by more than 40 schools overseen by the KIPP Foundation they had helped to establish and operate. This case tells the story of how KIPP grew from a single school to an education franchise, all the while taking steps to ensure that its special approach continued to be employed in schools bearing the KIPP name. More specifically, the case focuses on the relationship between KIPP founders Levin and Feinberg and two key philanthropists, Donald and Doris Fisher, who used the fortune earned in their GAP apparel chain to help the KIPP idea "go to scale." The case focuses on the decisions of Fisher, Feinberg, Levin, and the legal staff of the San Francisco-based KIPP Foundation, financed by the Fishers, to ensure that KIPP standards would be maintained at KIPP schools.

Learning Objective:
The case is useful for those interested in nonprofit management, social entrepreneurship, and the ways and means of "going to scale," going from a small start-up to a much larger operation.

Other Details

Case Author:
Howard Husock
Faculty Lead:
Mark Moore
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States