Project Blacktop Complete, Finds a Home at KIPP Inspire Academy in North City


Rally St. Louis today unveiled the installation of its latest funding project — Project Blacktop, an urban basketball court completed on the grounds of the north St. Louis city charter middle school KIPP Inspire Academy.

Project Blacktop was submitted by then-Washington University student Tim Cooney in December of 2012 with the goal of “beautify[ing] urban areas of St. Louis with functional outdoor basketball courts that serve as hubs for the neighborhood and [can] host community-building events.”

Six months later, Project Blacktop celebrated reaching its funding goal of $10,000 after receiving funds from a variety of sources, including Hardee’s ($2,500), Emerson Electric ($2,000) and consumers who contributed nearly $8,000.

“We’re proud to partner with both Rally St. Louis and a fine young leader like Tim Cooney to help fulfill his vision of providing an outdoor basketball venue for young people in the city,” said Otis Williams, deputy executive director of the St. Louis Development Corporation.

This is the fifth project successfully funded through the Rally St. Louis site. Previous projects include the organic Food Roof garden and education experience in downtown St. Louis, the Magic House Playport at Lambert–St. Louis International Airport, the mural on the Cotton Belt Exchange building along the downtown riverfront, and the Sculpted Cube Chair in The Grove neighborhood.

Students shooting hoops on the new basketball goals installed at KIPP Inspire Academy in North City

Students shooting hoops on the new basketball goals installed at KIPP Inspire Academy in North City

“KIPP’s most well-recognized motto is, ‘Work hard; be nice!’ Accordingly, it has always been a priority of ours to make sure our students perform well in both academics and extracurricular activities,” said KIPP St. Louis Executive Director Kelly Garrett. “This Rally St. Louis project extends our development outside of the classroom walls and onto the blacktop court. We are grateful to Rally and to the project donors for helping our students gain key academic traits and learn key life lessons that are gained through participating in sports and other character-building programs.”

A total of four padded basketball goals and four benches have been installed at the middle school, along with freshly painted basketball court lines on the refreshed blacktop.

The school’s basketball coach, Earl Dockett, is excited about the opportunities the new courts present to the students at KIPP Inspire. “Our scholars at KIPP Inspire Academy are enjoying the new outdoor basketball courts. This is the first time they’ve had the opportunity to play the game outside on school property. The new equipment is a very welcome addition.”

KIPP Inspire Academy's basketball team with their coach, Earl Dockett.

KIPP Inspire Academy’s basketball team with their coach, Earl Dockett.

About KIPP St. Louis

The KIPP St. Louis mission is to serve as a catalyst for education reform by establishing and supporting a world-class network of public schools that develop in all of their students the knowledge, skills, character and pursuit of excellence necessary to succeed in high-quality high schools and colleges — and in the world beyond. Their vision is that all families in St. Louis will have access to a world-class network of public schools that will provide children with the academic skills and character traits necessary to thrive in college and in life.

KIPP St. Louis is part of a national network of free, open-enrollment, college preparatory charter schools with a track record of preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life. In 2009, with Washington University in St. Louis as its sponsor, KIPP St. Louis opened KIPP Inspire Academy with 80 fifth graders. Today, KIPP Inspire has grown from a single class to a full capacity school, with nearly 350 students in grades five through eight.

In 2014, the first KIPP elementary school in Missouri, KIPP Victory Academy, opened its doors in a former St. Louis Public School building that had been vacant for many years. KIPP Victory Academy currently serves K-2 and will expand to cover K-4 by adding a grade level each year for the next two years.

This past year, KIPP St. Louis opened two additional schools: KIPP Wisdom Academy (an elementary school) and KIPP Triumph Academy (a middle school). These expansions, which mean KIPP now serves nearly 1,000 students in the area, are helping them make an even bigger impact on St. Louis youth. By 2020, KIPP St. Louis plans to serve 2,600 students throughout six different schools.


How Rally St. Louis Works

  • Anyone visiting can submit an idea for how to market and improve the region. Ideas can include anything from campaign slogans to beautification projects to highlighting a favorite cultural destination.
  • Residents can then vote for their favorite campaign ideas, and the ideas that receive the most votes from the crowd will proceed and a budget will be determined.
  • The budgeted ideas are then moved from the voting to the funding stage. If someone likes an idea and wants to see it executed, they can donate small denominations to help see it come to fruition.
  • If a project reaches its funding goals within 90 days, it has the opportunity to be executed by a St. Louis-area partner.



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