The building is the site of the former John Greenleaf Whittier School in the Allegheny West neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was designed by architect Henry deCourcy Richards and constructed in 1913. It was named after the famed abolitionist and American Quaker poet, most remembered for his 1866 book “Snow-Bound.”
The building was an active part of the School District of Philadelphia for 100 years. However, in 2013 it was one of over 20 area schools that closed amid a multi-year school board budget crisis. The building has remained vacant for almost a decade, awaiting a new community use.
Upon completion, the 78,338 square-foot facility will become the new home to the KIPP Philadelphia Charter School and serve as the new home to its 360-student middle school. The current middle school is operating out of a neighboring building. The upgraded space will be designed and constructed as a high-performance building, with energy-efficient systems and the capacity to expand enrollment to up to 700 students in the future. It will feature state-of-the-art classrooms, a new cafeteria, a multi-purpose gym and auditorium space, and outdoor education facilities.
KIPP Philly is the Philadelphia franchise of KIPP Public Schools (short for “Knowledge Is Power Program”), which There are currently 28 distinct KIPP franchises across the country, with over 270 total schools. KIPP schools are nonprofit institutions and feature a college-preparatory curriculum.
KIPP Philly schools primarily serve economically and educationally disadvantaged students, with 86 percent of students qualifying for the Federal Meals Program and 24 percent receiving Special Education Assistance.
Economic and Community Impact
Once complete, the new larger facility will expand KIPP Philadelphia’s enrollment by 94%, from 360 students to 700 students, most of which qualify for the Federal Meals Program. The preparatory nature of the KIPP program will provide students two to three grade levels behind with an opportunity to be accepted to college-preparatory high schools. The current Philadelphia KIPP schools have a 100 percent enrollment track record for college-preparatory high school acceptance. The completed campus will also create new open spaces and public access that will link the school with adjacent communities, promoting safe travel for the students.
NTCIC provided $6 million in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation and facilitated the investment in the $4.1 million of federal Historic Tax Credits generated by the $26 million historic revitalization efforts. Restoration of the historic building is expected to create 80 union construction jobs and additional permanent school jobs once complete.