Dave Levin co-founded KIPP, the Knowledge is Power Program, with Mike Feinberg in Houston in 1994. KIPP has grown from one classroom serving 45 students to a nationwide network of 200 public charter schools serving 80,000 students in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Dave currently works with KIPP leaders on instructional innovation, leadership development, and teacher training.
After graduating from Yale University in 1992, Levin joined Teach for America and taught fifth grade in Houston, Texas. In 1994, Dave won Teacher of the Year honors from his school in Houston, the Jefferson Award for outstanding community service in the city of Houston, and an outstanding teaching award from Teach for America.
In the spring of 2000, Levin and Feinberg were approached by Doris and Don Fisher, founders of Gap, Inc., to replicate KIPP's success nationwide. Together they co-founded the KIPP Foundation which supports the opening, growth, and evaluation of KIPP schools around the country. KIPP alumni are graduating college at more than four times the national average for kids from underserved communities and above the national average for all demographic groups.
In 2007, Dave, along with Norman Atkins from Uncommon Schools and Dacia Toll at Achievement First, co-founded Teacher U which has grown into the Relay Graduate School of Education, a master's program designed to prepare teachers with the best of both theory and practice so that their students can develop the transformative academic and character skills needed to succeed in college and life. Relay currently serves 2,000 teachers and 400 school leaders on nine campuses across the country.
In 2012, Dave partnered with Angela Duckworth, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dominic Randolph, head of the Riverdale Country School, to launch the Character Lab. The Character Lab’s mission is to develop, disseminate, and support the implementation of research based approaches to character. Its goal is to bridge the world of scientific research and educational practice. In partnership with the Character Lab and Relay, Dave designed and taught on on-line Coursera course entitled “Teaching Character.” To date, over 100,000 people have taken this course.
Also in 2012, Dave partnered with Norman Atkins, David Saltzman, Evan Rudall, and Shalinee Sharma to launch Zearn – a digital learning non-profit dedicated to maximizing the joy and rigor of how and what kids learn on-line. Zearn’s first project is the building of a kid-facing K-8 digital math experience.
Among the honors Dave and Mike have received include: the Robin Hood Foundation's John F. Kennedy, Jr. Hero Award, an Ashoka Fellowship, the National Jefferson Award for Distinguished Public Service by a Private Citizen; the Charles Bronfman Prize, a national service award from Spelman College, Honorary degrees from Duke and Yale University; and the Presidential Citizen's Medal, our nation's second highest presidential award for a private citizen.
Dave and Mike's work is the subject of Jay Matthew’s best-selling book Work Hard, Be Nice: How Two Inspired Teachers Created America's Most Promising Schools. More recently, KIPP’s work around character was featured in Paul Tough’s best-selling book, How Kids Succeed – Grit, Self-control, and the Hidden Power of Character.
Dave speaks regularly to groups from across the country on issues relating to leadership, teaching, coaching, transforming education, character, motivation, and parenting. Dave plays an active role in the leadership of the KIPP Foundation, KIPP NYC, the Character Lab, Relay Graduate School of Education, and Zearn. He lives in NYC with his wife, two sons, and two labs, Bubbles and Rocket.
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