The Charter School Growth Fund (See Charter School Growth Fund: Grants for Charter Schools) has a clear approach to funding charter management organizations; the focus is on performance, with the highest-achieving schools receiving priority.
Earlier this year, a Stanford University study analyzed this strategy, and the results suggest CSGF is skilled at recognizing charter school success.
The study looked at 70,000 students attending schools supported by the fund, and found that students in CSGF schools made steeper gains in math compared to students in other charter networks and traditional schools. The most important bit though: Achievement remained the same before and after the CMOs received funding.
In turn, the fund is doing exactly what it was designed to do; CSGF’s low-interest loans and grants are helping expand the highest-performing charter networks (Read CEO and president Kevin Hall's IP profile).
"It is encouraging to see the study’s validation of [our] selection process and its findings that the CMOs we support serve as exemplars for instructional and management quality," CSGF CEO Kevin Hall said in a statement.
Since being founded in 2005, CSGF has become a leading funder of charter management organizations. They’ve provided roughly $170 million in grants since then, and their financial support has gone to some of the most promising CMOs, including YES Prep and Rocketship Education. The Fund made 59 grants totaling $28 million, and they provided roughly $15 million in low-interest loans in a single year.
Currently, more than 30 CMOs are supported by the organization, reaching roughly 125,000 students. But they're gearing up to expand their focus, and that's important for fundraisers.
Luckily, CSGF is transparent when it comes to their grant-making strategy.
Of note, academic results play a major part in the funding process, with the most interest going to CMOs that have three or more years of positive growth. Another unique approach is that CSGF doesn’t micromanage grantees. CMOs set their own academic and policy frameworks, which creates a culture of "innovation," one focus of the fund’s giving.
The Fund has plenty of powerful partners. The Gates and Walton foundations are both major funders. IWalton gave $22 million to CSGF, and Gates provided $12.5 million. Other major funders include the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Fisher Fund and The Broad Foundation. Chances are if a foundation has an interest in charter schools — big or small — they support CSGF (Read CSGF's co-chair, John Fisher's IP profile).