How CSGF is Expanding Charter Schools

Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF) has increased its giving lately to Brooke Charter Schools (See Charter School Growth Fund: Grants for Charter Schools). The investment will allow Brooke, a network of charter schools in the Boston area, to open two campuses in addition to their currently existing three. Brooke's founder, a Teach-For-America alumni named Jon Clark, explained that CSGF's grant "will open up more than a thousand public school seats" for K-8 students at Brooke-affiliated schools. Over the course of the next three years, they will expand to serve over 2,000 students in metropolitan Boston. They aim to enroll 4,400 students by 2019.

Although nearly 75% of the children enrolled at Brooke-affiliated schools come from low-income families, their middle school-aged students earned the highest marks on the English Language Arts assessment out of any in the entire state of Massachusetts.

The "eligibility" section of the CSGF site says that in addition to existing charter school management organizations (CMOs), schools that aspire to attain this type of status may qualify for funding, as well. Academic performance at the schools must display "strong, consistent gains across several testing periods" for 2-3 years. CMOs must have the data available to prove it. Operators interested in receiving funds from CSGF must also demonstrate initiative and a plan to expand their student bodies.

CSGF's site clarifies their intention to take as little control as possible over the CMOs and schools for whom they provide funding. Rather, they seek to provide the support necessary for emerging CMOs to fully "articulate and realize their vision" in terms of deciding how things will run. (Read CSGF CEO and president Kevin Hall's IP profile).

Brooke was the first CMO to receive funding of this type from CSGF. Judging by the "criteria" section and what the press release said about their CSGF's choice, CMOs that emphasize teacher training are a likely bet for future investments from CSGF. Teachers at Brooke participate in weekly group critiques. Julie Maier, CSGF Vice President of Finance and Investor Relations, applauded Brooke's "focus on teacher quality" and its "strong effect on the students." A "proven track record of academic success" like that of Brooke's doesn't hurt, either.