More Equitable Funding and Finance Opportunities Coming for Tennessee Charter Schools
The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) and the Tennessee Charter School Center (TCSC) announced they have received an $8 million award from the U.S. Department of Education’s Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities Program to expand high quality educational opportunities in Tennessee. This award will enable LIIF and TCSC to establish a new charter school facilities program and leverage additional capital to invest an estimated $50 million into improving school facilities. LIIF and TCSC project the program will finance 20 schools over the next five years, serving an additional 7,500 students throughout the state.
“This is a highly competitive grant and TCSC is proud to be one of only a few charter support organizations to receive these funds historically,” shared Cameron Quick, Director of Operations, Tennessee Charter School Center. “We have seen an increased focus on the need for facilities support in conversation, legislation and even at the local district level. As each school is seeking ways to best house their students and build long-term success, we are excited that a program such as this will further enable them to understand and navigate the financial process much easier, better supported, and with more confidence.”
“LIIF has invested more than $550 million in high quality charter schools nationwide. We are excited to increase our investment in Tennessee through this statewide program,” said Kimberly Latimer-Nelligan, LIIF’s COO and EVP, Community Investments and Programs. “We are proud to be partnering with the Tennessee Charter School Center on this program, which not only provides capital resources but invests in building the capacity of charter schools for the long run.”
Research shows a significant relationship between the condition of school facilities and student performance. However, charter schools struggle to provide adequate facilities given that they must seek, pay for and maintain facilities through their own operating funds – an obstacle traditional schools do not incur. Tennessee charter schools are 20 percent smaller than the national standard for space per student, and 97 percent of schools have little to no outdoor space for their exclusive use.
“This program will provide both capital and capacity-building to improve school facilities and increase opportunities for low-income students in under-performing school districts across the state,” added Maya Bugg, chief executive officer, Tennessee Charter School Center. “Financing tools will also provide capital to improve current facilities and construct new ones for students in Tennessee’s neediest communities.”
This program will leverage the strength of each organization to create a “one-stop shop” that helps charter school operators achieve operational sustainability, realize their growth plans and build quality schools. TCSC will build on their work to deliver robust support to charter schools for facility development. LIIF will serve as the administrator of the program and provide capital and facilities financing expertise.
For more information about public charter schools in Tennessee, visit www.tnchartercenter.org.