Mike Feinberg is the Co-founder and Superintendent of KIPP Houston, a public charter school system, which includes 24 schools: 11 middle schools, 9 primary schools, and 4 high schools. To date, 90% of KIPP Houston students, tracking from the eighth grade, have matriculated to college. It was in 1994 that Mike and Dave Levin started KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) in Macario Garcia Elementary School in Houston, Texas, believing that demographics should not define a child’s destiny. Building on the success of the Houston program and the subsequent rollout of the KIPP school in New York City, the KIPP Foundation was launched in 2000 to support the growth of KIPP public schools nationwide. Today, the KIPP Foundation supports a national network of 183 high-performing public schools serving nearly 70,000 children in 20 states and DC. Mike and Dave’s story about the founding of KIPP is chronicled in the book “Work Hard. Be Nice.” by Washington Post reporter, Jay Mathews. Always committed to helping more kids, Mike led the effort in 2005 to start a public K-8 school in Houston for Hurricane Katrina evacuees from New Orleans. The school, NOW College Prep (New Orleans West), opened in 10 days.
Mike received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters of Education from National-Louis University. In 2010, Yale University awarded Mike an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters. He is a Teach For America (TFA) alumni, being a member of the TFA ’92 corps. In 2004, Mike was named an Ashoka Fellow, awarded to leading social entrepreneurs with innovative solutions and the potential to change patterns across society. He also received the Fordham Prize and National Jefferson Award in 2006 and Bronfman and Manhattan Institute Simon Prizes in 2009.
In 2008, Mike and Dave were named to the list of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News & World Report and received the Presidential Citizens Medal in the Oval Office of the White House. KIPP has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS 60 Minutes, ABC World News Tonight, and in The New York Times, Houston Chronicle, Washington Post, and more.
Mike is married to Colleen Dippel, and they have two children: Gus and Abadit.
Speaking at the University of Penn commencement in 1995, Mike said to the graduates: “I’m but one teacher in the cause, and I have been able to create a place where 300 children have the opportunity to succeed in life just like all of you here today. Those 300 children know that when they get to the top of the mountain of life, I want them to celebrate, enjoy the view, and then reach back to help others climb the path they just climbed. If each of those 300 kids becomes an adult who helps another 300 climb the mountain, that’s 90,000. If those 90,000 each help 300, that’s 27 million. If those 27 million each help 300, that’s 8.1 billion, and we just fixed the planet.” This statement continues to ring true today as our KIPPsters seek to help others climb up the mountain of college and life.