KIPP MA Response to the Passing of Representative John Lewis and Reverend C.T. Vivian

To the KIPP Massachusetts Community, 

Along with you, I was saddened to hear of the passing of Representative John Lewis and Reverend C.T. Vivian. While we mourn their losses, we also celebrate their lives and legacy. By the age of 21, John Lewis was already a significant leader of the Civil Rights Movement, participating in the first Freedom Rides and working alongside Martin Luther King Jr. on the March on Washington. He served in the House of Representatives since 1986, continuing to fight for Civil Rights in America. Reverend C.T. Vivian was also an active leader and trusted advisor for Martin Luther King Jr., leading student sit-ins and Freedom Rides. These two men continued to speak publicly on the continued fight for freedom and equality until their passing on July 17, 2020.

I spent the weekend reflecting on the impact John Lewis has made to our community. John Lewis is the embodiment of the struggle for racial justice and equity as a lifelong journey that has moments and seasons but never really ends. We pass the baton to the next generation and continue the struggle. I’m honored to run this lifelong race as both a Black woman and the leader of KIPP Massachusetts.  I will work to ensure our students develop critical consciousness.  I will make space for them to embrace “good trouble” as they pursue their aspirations by walking their own paths.

As Rep. John Lewis said in his own words, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year; it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” He has passed the torch to each of us. As KIPP Massachusetts continues the fight to create a world where our students will thrive, we must aspire to continue the work led by Rep. John Lewis’ accomplishments. We will honor him and allow his legacy to live on as the blueprint for the work that we do each day in our schools. Thank you, Representative John Lewis. Thank you, Reverend C.T. Vivian. May you both rest in power.


“Nikki” Barnes

Executive Director | KIPP Massachusetts 

Posted in: KIPP MA
Thanks to LHAND, a “Circle” of Friends is “College Bound”

Two KIPP Seniors and their three neighborhood friends have all participated in “College Bound” since elementary school. Today the group of friends not only celebrates graduation from high school, but also the completion of the program and their future. College Bound is a program offered by LHAND (Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development), which aims to introduce college at a young age and promote the value of education after high school.


Posted in: Lynn
Five KIPP Academy Lynn Middle School Students Named JFK Library “Make a Difference Award” Winners 

Lynn, MA–June 24,2020– Five rising eighth graders at KIPP Academy Lynn middle school were awarded the “Make a Difference” Award from the JFK Presidential Library and Museum. Each year, the Library recognizes up to 100 middle school students from across Massachusetts with the award for the impact they have made in their communities through service projects. This year nineteen students across the State were selected. The winners from KIPP are: Rachel Washington, Tamie Dinh, Densel Gomez, Cristian Garcia Bermudez, and Leila Barhmy. In past years, the winners have been honored with an in-person ceremony at the Library, but due to COVID-19, the winners were notified with a video message and will be mailed their certificates.


The students were nominated by John Kane, a committed KIPP volunteer who works with small groups of students in the middle school on community service projects and other activities. As part of the Operation FunD program created by the Lynch-Van Otterloo YMCA in Marblehead, the students worked together to apply for a grant for $2,500 to address a community issue. They decided to use education to address racism, bullying, drug abuse, and domestic abuse, and worked with other community organizations including the Lynn YMCA, RAW Arts, Girls Inc., and Healing Abuse, Working for Change (HAWC). They are partnering with RAW Arts to design a billboard on the Lynnway or in Downtown Lynn with an inspirational message and design to address the issues, create flyers to distribute  throughout the community, and have student-led discussions on the issues. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the grant process and ultimate implementation of the project have been delayed, and both are expected to be completed during the next academic year.


“While the students deserve so much credit for their hard work and creativity, so do the non-profits,” said Mr. Kane, “starting with the Lynch-Van Otterloo YMCA Operation FunD program, the four Lynn organizations, and ultimately the Kennedy Library.  Especially under current circumstances, there is no more hopeful and powerful message than that kids partnering with concerned adults truly can make a difference.”

Posted in: Lynn
KIPP Massachusetts names Rhonda “Nikki” Barnes next Executive Director

The Board of Trustees of KIPP Massachusetts is excited to share the news that Rhonda “Nikki” Barnes was appointed the new Executive Director of KIPP Massachusetts (KIPP MA). Nikki has over 20 years of classroom experience in elementary, middle, and high school, as well as 10 years of experience working in education non-profit organizations. She came to KIPP MA in 2013 as a 6th grade teacher at KIPP Academy Boston, became the Dean of Students in 2014, and the Principal in 2015. Under her leadership, KIPP Academy Boston experienced some of the highest student growth in the state of Massachusetts, including some of the best performance in reading growth on the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment in the KIPP national network. Most recently, Nikki has served as the Chief Schools Officer of KIPP MA, supporting the five school principals. Nikki will be the first Black woman to serve as Executive Director of KIPP Massachusetts. 

Nikki was recommended by outgoing Executive Director Caleb Dolan, who led KIPP MA with excellence for the past 10 years. Reflecting on Nikki’s appointment, Caleb said, “I made the decision to step down because I had the honor working alongside someone who I knew could lead our schools further towards the mission and vision we crafted with our families and alumni. Nikki is an educator with the experience, energy, and imagination to lead the evolution of our schools so that all students realize their aspirations for a choice-filled lives and a more just world.”

Nikki shared her vision for the future of KIPP Massachusetts with the Board, families, and staff throughout a comprehensive hiring process. People across the KIPP community agreed that she will lead with excellence and equity at the forefront for all students, teachers, and families. “I will work to make sure every child is seen, known, loved, and challenged,” Nikki said. “KIPP Massachusetts is a strong region of schools whose alumni are persisting and advancing towards amazing adult lives, where children are growing academically and socially, and where we are taking big steps towards sustainability with our money and our people. This is fertile soil for us to grow even stronger.”

Board of Trustees Chair Amanda Seider says, “Nikki has proven herself time and time again as an exceptional educator, manager, advocate, strategist, and leader. Her focus on equity, critical consciousness, and anti-racist approaches to education will take our work to the next level, and push us all to be the very best we can be in service of students and families.” We are excited for this new chapter at KIPP Massachusetts, and are thankful for Caleb Dolan’s leadership and service over the past 10 years.

Posted in: KIPP MA