KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy is a charter school built to give Camden students a better chance at preparing for and graduating from college. In a city with high unemployment and a dropout rate about 50%, this kind of educational opportunity can make a significant difference.
Goldman Sachs committed a $41.5 million loan to help finance the project. The capital will be used for a $38 million purchase of $60 million par value Qualified School Construction Bonds from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority; the proceeds from those bonds will, in turn, pay for the school’s construction.
The 112,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility will serve over 1,100 students from pre-K through 8th grade. It includes a cafeteria, auditorium, gym, computer labs, playing field and an outdoor basketball court.
At full scale, KIPP Cooper is projected to help Camden City Public Schools educate 52% more college graduates. More than 80% of KIPP Cooper’s students are expected to come from low- and middle-income households, and most will be the first in their families to graduate from college.
The KIPP Cooper project builds on the neighborhood redevelopment work of the Cooper Foundation and is the cornerstone of the Camden Cooper Lanning Promise Neighborhood Initiative. The school itself will be operated by KIPP New Jersey, a regional charter school organization. It was borne out of KIPP, one of the largest and strongest charter networks in the country, currently operating 141 schools in 20 states and serving 50,000 students.