Behind the Scenes: The Critical Support Roles that Charter Schools Program Credit Enhancement Recipients Play to Improve Charter School Facilities Access

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Charter schools have always had difficulty finding affordable buildings. In response, charter school supporters have explored many policy and market approaches, ranging from strategies easing access to district facilities to increasing both public and private revenue options for facilities purposes.

This paper, produced by the National Charter School Resource Center, explores the experiences of grantees of the U.S. Department of Education Charter Schools Program (CSP) Credit Enhancement (CE) for Charter School Facilities Program. This program is one of several efforts by Congress to address the charter school facilities challenge. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), state or local government entities, and private nonprofit entities, all of which may be apply for CSP CE funding, are key partners in bringing CE financing options to the charter school sector. In addition to this financing role, CE grantees play important non-financial support roles on behalf of the charter community.

This paper presents examples of CSP CE grantees playing non-financial roles to help charter schools access buildings and increase their understanding of real estate markets and policy landscapes. It offers suggestions, based on these examples, of how to leverage or build CSP CE grantees’ and charter schools’ capacity to secure facilities, grow the number of successful charter schools, and ultimately achieve better results for students.