HBSAAA Celebrates Centennial with KIPP Academy
“All of us will learn. Be nice. Work hard. If there is a problem, we look for a good solution. If there is a better way, we try to find it.”
Those are the character skills that students work on every day at KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Academy – the highest performing charter school in the Bronx, New York in terms of reading scores, math scores and attendance.
The list echoes the values that undergird Harvard Business School’s mission of educating “leaders who make a difference in the world.”
Perhaps that’s why there been such a long and successful partnership between KIPP and the Harvard Business School African-American Alumni Association (HBSAAA).
On Saturday, March 15, 2008, KIPPsters, HBSAAA volunteers in New York and their supporters celebrated the HBS Centennial as well as four years of a unique collaboration sponsored by Dell Computer.
“The 80 middle school students with whom we’ve interacted, “said HBSAAA President Kenneth Powell, MBA ’74, “come from the poorest neighborhoods in the Bronx. They’ve accomplished a tremendous amount already in their young lives. And now, we as HBS alums, have the opportunity to show them that their educational and career goals are achievable….that they can succeed in elite colleges, graduate schools and in business.”
Organized by former CBS News Correspondent and Burson-Marsteller Senior Counselor Jacqueline Adams, MBA’ 78 -- a member of the KIPP NYC Board of Directors -- the reunion was a complex, multi-disciplinary event.
“We’re influencing the next generation of business and civic leaders, said Nancy Lane, PMD- 29 and a member of the HBSAAA Board. “What’s remarkable is that the HBSAAA alums and the KIPP alums managed to keep up with Jackie and we all benefited from her large network of friends and connections.”
Indeed, reunion day was jam-packed!
12:30 p.m. – This year’s class of 22 7th grade KIPP students completed a rigorous three-part test of computer terminology and hardware. No surprise. Everyone passed.
“The vocabulary test was the most difficult part,” said 13-year old Tavron. ”But it was really fun to take apart and rebuild the inside of the computer. The motherboard looks just like a little city!”
2:30 p.m. – To celebrate, the KIPPsters rocked out in an impromptu concert of their favorite pop and classical pieces – a preview of their annual KIPP Orchestra performance – this year at Madison Square Garden. Drums, violins, keyboards, cellos, xylophones, violas – the instruments are unlocked and always available in a KIPP Academy classroom.
“KIPP is a classic example of nature versus nurture and nurture always wins out, said Obinna Onyeagoro, MBA ’05. “I would want my own children to attend KIPP because of the intense curriculum and the dedication of the amazing staff.”
3:30 p.m. – Over pizza provided by the TJX Foundation and soft drinks donated by PepsiCo and Mishka Pitter, MBA ‘03, KIPP alums described their new lives at the nation’s best high schools and cheered the 8th graders who’ve just been accepted to Groton, Choate, Hotchkiss, Milton Academy, Andover and Phillips Exeter.
4 p.m. – “I was pleased to see the students’ inquisitiveness, tenacity and energy,” said Assistant Director of HBS Admissions (and basketball fan) Pauline Jennett. She urged the students to study hard and give back to their communities – factors that can help them gain admittance to HBS’ MBA classes of 2018, 2019 and 2020.
“I was also pleased to see more than two dozen HBS alums – all busy, successful professionals – providing concrete examples of ethical, community leadership,” Jennett added. “They are living the HBS motto. They really are making a difference in the world – every week when they show up to volunteer at KIPP.”
4:30 p.m. - Sports agent Robert Fayne, MBA ’83, described his career path from Wall Street to dealmaking with basketball superstar Michael Jordan. He then treated everyone to a New Jersey Nets-Utah Jazz NBA game.
“Most kids only think of an athlete’s career on the court. What impressed me about the KIPPsters,” Fayne said, “is that they asked very specific questions about how I work with my clients once their playing days are over. It was remarkable to see how forward thinking these young people are.”
5: 15 p.m. – After the kids thanked Fayne, Ken Powell, Jackie Adams and TJX Foundation’s Howard Mills, they presented a KIPP tee shirt to Edward Olebe, MBA ’99, for his dedication in leading HBSAAA’s volunteer effort. Edward is legendary for having interrupted a European business trip -- jetting from London to the Bronx and then back to Frankfurt – all to avoid disappointing the kids. They all then boarded busses and headed to the Izod Center in Rutherford, New Jersey for the game.
“It was great to re-connect with the kids we worked with two and three years ago. They’re as much role models for this year’s class as our HBS alums are,” said Olebe. “It seems like such a small thing to us, but the kids really do appreciate our presence and our willingness to teach them about computers, as well as marketing, accounting, finance, engineering and consulting.”
11 p.m. – At the final buzzer, the Nets triumphed over the Jazz – 117 to 115. And Robert’s client, the Net’s Josh Boone, was one of the game’s highest scorers with 21 points.
Said Beverly Anderson, MBA ’97, “These kids have amazing mental agility and flexibility. They aren’t afraid to ask tough questions and discuss serious content with seasoned business professionals. They are eager to learn from one another – especially their older KIPP peers, who’ve graduated and are now studying at the most elite boarding schools. They’re able to make music – on the fly – without a conductor or even a written score. And they’re also able to relax and just be kids at a basketball game.”
“Something wonderful happens every time our HBSAAA alums interact with these youngsters,” said Jackie Adams, MBA ’78. “But remember, these kids aren’t unique. They’re everywhere in America’s inner cities. They prove the folly of allowing so many schools to fail. KIPP’s academic and character successes are the results of great teachers, a longer school day, discipline and the belief that these kids DO matter and CAN achieve!”
"If there was ever any doubt about the value of this program and whether it was worth the hundreds of hours invested by so many people," said Edward Olebe, MBA '99, "then seeing so many past students and alumni volunteers in one place, hearing about the impact of this experience on their lives, and feeling the power of those connections made it clear that we have already made a difference."