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Doris and John Fisher Scale Up Student Success

Bringing projects to scale is in the Fisher family’s DNA. Co-founders of the Gap retail chain, Don and Doris Fisher knew how to take a seed and make it grow. So, when it came to their philanthropy, they went looking for another great idea they could help cultivate and scale.

They found that idea in the form of KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program), which in 2000 was made up of a couple of charter schools that were getting great results and looking to expand. At the time, it felt like a risky proposition—even for a family of risk-takers. Indeed, in their first meeting, KIPP co-founder Dave Levin admitted to Don that he had “no idea” if they could succeed with their proposed program. A dozen years and 107 more schools later, the risk has paid off many times over.

Though Don passed away in 2009, Doris and her son John, who now leads the KIPP Foundation board, have stayed heavily involved and committed to KIPP’s growth. And while its brand name is unparalleled and the expansion figures are impressive, John emphasizes that success is proven one school at a time. Both Doris and John look forward to the daily joys of working with KIPP, and both believe their involvement with this transformative organization has allowed them the opportunity to engage meaningfully in the broader education reform movement.

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