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The Knowledge Is Power Program, also known as KIPP, is expanding its educational operation in the Arkansas Delta. Currently, the program has a free open-enrollment public charter middle school and high school in Helena-West Helena.

Students at both schools have been praised for their academic achievements. In October, KIPP Delta College Preparatory School, the middle school, was one of only three schools in the state to be named a 2008 Blue Ribbon School by Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. In 2008, 86 percent of the middle school’s eighth graders scored proficient or advanced on the Arkansas Benchmark Exam in math, compared to just 23 percent of students in the Helena-West Helena School District.

Now, the KIPP program has been awarded a $2.6 million grant from the Charter School Growth Fund, a national investment fund. With that support, KIPP Delta will increase its operation from two schools in Helena-West Helena to 12 schools across the delta region by 2019. FM 89’s Malcolm Glover talks with KIPP administrators, teachers and students about the program and its future.

Listen to the complete story from National Public Radio affiliate KUAR