CSDC Awarded Nearly $6M to Support Young Charter Schools
(October, 2017) Charter Schools Development Corporation (CSDC) has been awarded two government grants totaling nearly $6M to continue its development of expanded school choice for underserved communities. The grants, targeting financial and facilities support for charter schools, include $5 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Expanding Opportunity Through Quality Charter Schools Program, and $826,905 from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Program.
As the recipient of six individual grants from the U.S. Department of Education (totaling $33.6 million), as well as three CDFI awards (totaling $3 million), CSDC has partnered with charter schools to develop over 6 million square feet of safe, affordable, state-of-the-art educational space across the country, providing access to academic excellence for more than 66,000 students so far. These newest awards will increase CSDC’s capacity to help additional innovative, results-oriented schools open and thrive in the communities that need them most.
Targeting early-stage charter schools that serve at-risk student populations and low-income communities, CSDC has developed a suite of facilities and financing instruments that enable school leaders to focus on student success while avoiding the financial and facilities pitfalls that so often hobble fledgling schools. Already CSDC has provided financing for over 170 separate charter school facility projects in 25 states and the District of Columbia. 68% of the schools served by CSDC to date enroll a majority of low income students.
McCurdy Charter School in Espanola, NM is one example of how a school benefits from CSDC’s programs. Director Janette Archuleta explains: “Since prior to opening of the school, the founders of the charter had been searching for viable options for funding with no success. It was not until we began our discussions with CSDC that we had a glimmer of hope that our school could continue.” Partnering with CSDC allowed McCurdy to move into a new 39,000 square foot facility in June, 2017, which was critical to securing its charter renewal. “Our students come from challenging situations as our community experiences high rates of drug abuse and domestic violence,” says Archuleta. “The closing of our school because of inadequate facilities would have been a major loss for our families and community.”
CSDC will use the CDFI Program grant as part of its CSDC Direct program to increase the amount of lending provided to charter schools nationally.
CSDC will use the DOE grant to develop nonprofit real estate projects for 23 charter schools nationally, offering favorable lease rates and fixed purchase price options. To do so, CSDC will leverage the initial grant to ultimately secure $115 million in new private sector financing at below market-rates. The end result will be custom turnkey facilities delivered efficiently and effectively to charter school tenants at lower cost, leaving more dollars for classroom teaching and learning.
Self Development Academy, whose enrollment is 95% free and reduced lunch, has become a model of student achievement in Arizona, with its Mesa location regularly scoring in the top 5%. However, replicating that success was hampered by facilities funding obstacles. Asif Majeed, Board President of the school’s second location, Self Development Academy – Phoenix, describes the challenge: “We looked for almost a year but could not close the deal as either the building was not adequate, or if it was, it was financially impossible to procure it…. Finally, at almost just the right time, we were introduced to CSDC.” With the benefit of CSDC’s acquisition and renovation expertise and favorable lease-to-own terms, the Phoenix campus is thriving and on the path to building ownership. Says Majeed, “There was no way we could have done this without their assistance.”
Since its inception 20 years ago, CSDC’s mission has been to support quality school choice for underserved students by developing and financing affordable charter school facilities. As a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation and CDFI, CSDC has helped public charter schools acquire and finance facilities at the lowest possible cost, through below-market-rate credit enhancements and direct loans, as well as custom-developed lease-for-purchase facilities.
The continued faith of the U.S. Departments of Education and Treasury is a testament to CSDC’s effectiveness in helping charter schools create safe-and-sound facilities for educational opportunity and excellence, and their force-multiplying impact on community rejuvenation.
Mia Howard, Founder and Executive Director of Intrepid College Prep in Nashville, TN sums it up best: “CSDC’s role in allowing us to move forward with the right facility for our organization’s growth cannot be overstated.” Intrepid College Prep serves a diverse population of students in grades 5-8, of whom 87% qualify for free or reduced lunch, and 24% are English Language Learners, and achieves 95% average daily attendance. Says Howard, “CSDC offered us the best option that ensured as much money can continue to flow into our programs, and not real estate deals, as possible. CDSC has played a critical role in our ability to continue to provide a high-quality pathway for Antioch students to enroll in selective colleges.”
For more information about CSDC, visit www.csdc.org.