Charter School Financing

Charter School Financing

Inquire today to learn more about NFF's favorable loan terms, including higher-than-standard loan-to-values, lower-than-standard equity contributions, and extended interest-only periods.

Charter schools have been opening their doors to students across the US for decades to create spaces where young people can learn and thrive. And rather than struggling with financing for affordable facilities, NFF believes that educational leaders should be able to focus on what they do best, which is preparing students to pursue their dreams and aspirations. Through our extensive experience working with K-12 charter schools and their partners, we have a deep understanding of what it takes to run a successful school while adapting and growing when necessary to meet the needs of their students. Our expertise in charter schools’ underlying business models and unique financial drivers allows us to provide truly customized support and flexible terms for each of our clients. We meet schools with the products they need. 

A group of students and staff at a ribbon cutting hosted at a church
Elevate Collegiate Charter School's founder Rebecca Francis Jones cuts the ribbon, marking the opening of its Third Ward location

Charter School Financing Options

NFF currently lends to schools in the following states: Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Texas. 

Facility Loans

  • Acquisition of new charter school facilities
  • Expansion of existing buildings
  • Construction, renovation, and leasehold improvement
  • Pre-development and/or project-related soft costs

Equipment Loans

  • Computer hardware, software, presentation equipment
  • Office and classroom furniture
  • Playground equipment, walls, and fencing
  • Green and energy efficiency improvements

Working Capital Loans

In addition to charter school facilities lending, NFF offers working capital lines of credit to smooth irregular, episodic funding streams.

New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC)

NMTC can bring much-needed equity to charter schools. NFF has leveraged millions of dollars in tax credits to spur investment in projects in low-income communities.

Nonprofit Finance Fund's loan to Elevate Collegiate Charter School, in collaboration with Texas Charter School Development (“TCSD”), has enabled the school to secure a long-term home in the Greater Third Ward, providing a safe and inspiring learning environment for their scholars. With NFF’s support, TCSD is transforming Elevate’s campus to accommodate 472 students in grades PreK-5.

John Sun, CEO, Texas Charter School Development

Recent Charter School Loan Projects

Elevate Collegiate Charter School (Elevate Collegiate) is a new BIPOC-led and -serving charter school in the Third Ward neighborhood of Houston. The Third Ward is home to some of the most critical institutions in Houston's Black community, including Texas Southern University, Riverside Hospital, and dozens of prominent churches. Using a culturally responsive curriculum that reflects the diverse experiences of its students, Elevate Collegiate supports students' diverse educational needs through frequent progress monitoring, small-group instruction informed by that monitoring, and additional time in literacy and math to close gaps.

"Nonprofit Finance Fund's loan to Elevate Collegiate Charter School, in collaboration with Texas Charter School Development (“TCSD”), has enabled the school to secure a long-term home in the Greater Third Ward, providing a safe and inspiring learning environment for their scholars. With NFF’s support, TCSD is transforming Elevate’s campus to accommodate 472 students in grades PreK-5." - John Sun, CEO, Texas Charter School Development

NFF's loan and a $2 million subordinated loan from TCSD will finance Elevate Collegiate’s two-phase leasehold improvement. This renovation project will provide the financing needed to renovate 24,000 square feet of space to create 18 classrooms, support offices, a shared kitchen, and a multi-purpose room. This includes constructing a new 3,100 square-foot mezzanine level for student use.

This loan was supported by NFF’s credit enhancement grant program facilitated by the United States Department of Education's Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities Program. This credit enhancement grant program allows us to offer low-cost capital that helps start-up and single-site schools acquire, construct, and renovate new or existing facilities.

Partner: Texas Charter School Development (TCSD)

Impact Public Schools (IPS) is a network of three charter schools serving the racially, ethnically, linguistically, and socioeconomically diverse regions close to Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. The mission of IPS is to prepare its K-5 students for academic success and positive impact in their communities as the next generation of equity-driven, innovative leaders. IPS serves approximately 1,300 students annually across its three sites and prioritizes college readiness, project-based learning, and small group instruction in the classroom. Since its inception in 2016, IPS has grown to be the largest charter network in the State of Washington.

This loan will support significant renovations to IPS’ fourth campus, the newest addition to its network. The school will be in the City of Renton, where 55% of the population identifies as BIPOC and the poverty rate exceeds the state and national averages. The project will result in 24 new classrooms, an administrative space, commons, a kitchen, a parking lot, and a playground. When the new school opens in the fall of 2023, this expansion will grow the school’s total capacity by nearly 600 students – allowing IPS to offer high-quality education to more students across Washington.

Partners: Civic Builders, Charter School Growth Fund, Washington Charter School Development

RISE Prep Mayoral Academy (“RISE”) is a tuition-free public charter school serving students from Woonsocket, North Smithfield, and Burrillville, Rhode Island. From a kindergarten class of 50 students in 2015, RISE continues to grow, adding one grade each year until 2024, when it will serve grades K-8. The school emphasizes Individualized Education Plans that respond to the unique learning needs of each student. With 480 scholars in attendance, RISE will open a new high school in 2024-2025, as well as a second K-8 campus in 2028. All of RISE’s students qualify as low-income.

RISE spent its first three years in a temporary site that it quickly outgrew. NFF financed RISE’s acquisition and renovation of their current campus – a four-story, 34,000 square foot building just half a mile from their original location. To date, NFF has closed three separate loans to RISE (totaling $~15.2 million), with LISC purchasing a 50% participation in each transaction. This loan will support the third and final phase of the project, which includes a double-story gymnasium, classrooms, and a conference room totaling 8,500 square feet. This brings RISE one step closer to their goal of creating more space for its rapidly growing student body and expanding its programs to more young scholars.

Partner: LISC

KIPP Philadelphia Public Schools is one of 28 regions of KIPP’s national, non-profit network of college preparatory, public charter schools educating elementary, middle, and high school students. Since 2003, KIPP Philadelphia has built a track record of preparing students in educationally underserved communities for success through college and in life. From a founding class of 90 students, KIPP Philadelphia has grown to serve more than 2,600 students in grades K-12 through five schools, with plans to expand to an additional five schools over the next several years. MIS Capital LLC is a mission-driven developer that provides real estate planning, economic development research and asset regeneration services on behalf of impact-focused organizations. MIS Capital's mission is to develop successful and sustainable projects that deliver lasting impact within their communities.

This loan will allow KIPP Philadelphia to move their elementary school to a property in West Philadelphia that has remained vacant since 2013. MIS Capital will renovate the entire property, preserving the historic façade and brickwork while making necessary updates to infrastructure like pipes and ventilation and completely redesigning recreational facilities. When this development is complete, KIPP Philadelphia will begin renting the property and opening it to students, with the ultimate goal of purchasing the building and giving its elementary school a permanent home. This development is part of a larger expansion that will allow the KIPP Philadelphia network to nearly double in size, serving an estimated 4,480 students by 2030.

Partners: BlueHub Capital, Cinnaire, National Trust Community Investment Corporation, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, Reinvestment Fund, Truist Community Capital

LIFE Academy, a startup charter school in Montgomery, Alabama, provides students in grades K-8 with a holistic education rooted in trauma-informed learning, student connectedness, culturally relevant curricula, and authentic community partnership. This low-interest loan from NFF’s Resilient Communities Fund – NFF’s first ever loan in Alabama – will allow LIFE Academy to purchase and renovate the former St. Jude Educational Institute and Catholic Hospital, a key stop on the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail and the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s two children. A campus with such a prominent role in the civil rights movement will be a powerfully symbolic location for a school serving a city whose public school students are 75% Black. Owning – rather than renting – this historically significant building will help the school save money in the long term and serve its community for years to come.

Partners: Blue Hub Capital, Hope Credit Union

NFF understands our financial and school design imperatives and worked diligently to create tailored loans for construction work at our new facilities. Through our deeply collaborative relationship with NFF, we are able to expand opportunities for students in central Brooklyn so they receive an extraordinary education.

Susan Pollock, President, Ascend Learning

Meeting Charter School Financing Needs

Unlocking Educational Achievement in Tennessee
In recent years, more and more charter schools have sprung up across Tennessee in a continuing effort to improve academic opportunities for students in cities like Nashville and Memphis. Today, students are going to class in modular buildings and refurbished furniture retailers, home-improvement stores, and churches.

On the left a map of Tennessee is outlined in chalk on a blackboard. On the right side of the image are two pictures of young children engaged in activities at school
Flexible financing for schools across TN

Making Room for an Extraordinary Education in NYC
The Ascend network of charter schools provides a liberal arts education to kindergarten-through-10th grade students at nine schools in Brooklyn. NFF financing has helped Ascend expand and developing learning-conducive spaces that let them focus on academics instead of facilities.

A classroom is filled with desks and chairs. There are boards at the front of the room and a large window behind the desks.
Facilities financing for bigger and better learning spaces

Place Matters
DREAM's mission is to provide inner-city youth with opportunities to play, learn and grow. “We use the power of teams to coach, teach, and inspire youth to recognize their potential and realize their dreams.” Its programs have names like Rookie League and Teambuilders, and prominent supporters include Mark Teixeira, the recently retired New York Yankees star first baseman.

A young boy is seated at a desk wearing a blue shirt raising his hand with a smile on his face.
Ongoing support for operations and new facilities

We are fortunate to have lenders such as NFF serving the charter school market. DREAM welcomes their value-added participation in future development, and we also highly recommend them to other charter schools seeking financing for facility projects.

Richard Berlin, Executive Director, DREAM

Interested in financing for your charter school?

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