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KIPP Partnership Produces First Bloomfield College Graduates

By Alicia Cook

In 2013, Bloomfield College partnered with KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program), a national network of open-enrollment, college preparatory public schools. The College and KIPP joined forces in an effort to increase college completion rates for underserved KIPP students in New Jersey and nationwide. The partnership made Bloomfield College, recently ranked #1 in New Jersey and #20 nationally in promoting the social and economic mobility of students in the fifth quintile socioeconomically to high economic achievement, the first private school in the state of New Jersey to formally align with the organization.

“The KIPP relationship is one that continues the long tradition of Bloomfield College bringing resources and opportunities to our broader community, including students from our major neighboring city, Newark,” Bloomfield College President, Richard A. Levao said, at the time.

Through this partnership, Bloomfield College aimed to recruit and enroll between 10-to-15 qualified KIPP graduates each year and provide support to enrolled KIPP alumni throughout their time at the institution. The partnership has exceeded these expectations with 28 KIPP students enrolling as part of the freshman class in Fall 2016, the largest incoming class in the College’s history.

“Bloomfield College has relationships with several schools in our area, including Newark Collegiate Academy (NCA). As our area’s KIPP school, NCA does a tremendous job of preparing students to pursue college degrees and careers in their chosen fields,” said Dr. Tresmaine Grimes, Vice President of Academic Affairs/Dean of Faculty. “We are so proud of the KIPP alumni who have successfully completed their bachelor’s degrees at Bloomfield College this year. They demonstrate the power of meaningful collaboration between the K-12 educational system and colleges and universities.  We wish our newest Bloomfield College alumni the very best of success in their future endeavors.”

Now, the first group of KIPP alumni will graduate from Bloomfield College on Friday, May 19, 2017.

Students include Keanu Sims ’17, Christopher Booker ’17, and Gerald Rhymes ’17.

“Graduating from Bloomfield College is a really huge deal to me because I honestly never thought I would, said Rhymes, who credited his mother for motivating him to pursue his college degree. “I understand how rare this opportunity was for me, especially being from Newark.”

Sadly, Rhymes’ mother passed away in the fall semester of his sophomore year at the College.

“I took two years off, and during those two years I saw few good friends go down the wrong path,” Rhymes continued. “That, along with my mother’s memory, gave me the push I needed to come back to Bloomfield College with a purpose.”

After graduating, Rhymes plans on mentoring KIPP students.

“KIPP is one of the main reasons I am graduating this May,” expressed Rhymes. “I want to be able to push kids coming from similar backgrounds and situations as me. I know just how impactful it could be to see a person who’s similar to you achieve success, it makes the unattainable seem attainable.”