Loans: Charter Schools and Education

Featured Loan: Homework Central

Supporting student success in the South Bay Area

$100,000 working capital loan (October 2022)

The mission of Homework Central (HWC) is to provide students and families in the San Mateo-Foster City School District with the tools they need to foster academic success. HWC partners with local schools and offers tutoring services, literacy programs, and family dinners – primarily to Latina/o English-language learners. For over 20 years now, HWC’s programs have served an average of 80 to 100 students per school year at no cost to their families.

In response to increased demand from the families it serves, over the past two years HWC has expanded its programs and established new ones, including a summer learning program and second-grade literacy pilot. Financed through NFF’s Bay Area Racial Equity Fund, which provides zero-interest loans with flexible repayment plans to BIPOC-led nonprofits in the San Francisco Bay Area, this loan will support the salaries of new staff that will expand the summer learning program and make the second-grade literacy program permanent. With this financing, Homework Central can continue investing in the success of even more students across San Mateo County well into the future.

With rising tuition costs and low graduation rates, traditional college options leave many young people – especially those from communities of color – with no degree, no path into a meaningful career, yet a huge burden of debt. The overwhelming majority of the tech workforce is white, male, and from middle to upper-class backgrounds. This produces both an equity issue and a creativity issue.

Marcy Lab School responds to this by offering a free, one-year software engineering fellowship to students who might not be able to afford a four-year college. Graduates learn how to code, contribute to and lead teams, and remain confident and composed under stress. They enter software engineering jobs that pay $70,000 or more per year. Most importantly, they leave the program knowing that their backgrounds and identities add value to every room they enter. Marcy Lab School has seen an increase in demand for its programs and would like to expand in response. This loan will support Marcy Lab School's expansion into a larger facility, allowing it to offer its programs to 20 more students, a 33% increase.  
Based in Philadelphia, PA, Graduate Philadelphia provides advising, coaching, re-enrollment, and perseverance support to adults who live and/or work in the Philadelphia region and have previous college credit but have not yet earned a degree. As a direct response to the needs of lower-income job seekers and incumbent workers, Graduate Philadelphia’s work addresses historic, pervasive inequities related to postsecondary attainment, living-wage employment, and relationship capital. Recognizing that the needs of its clients do not revolve solely around attaining degrees, Graduate Philadelphia complements its core degree completion programs with a portfolio of short courses, micro-credentials, and workforce certificates.

Graduate Philadelphia receives a significant portion of its revenue from contracts with the City of Philadelphia; however, these payments are given after the organization offers services and are often delayed, creating cash flow issues for the nonprofit. Offered through NFF’s zero-interest CARE Fund, this loan will smooth over these cash flow challenges by bridging the period between when they offer services and when they receive payment. An additional source of revenue for the organization is contracts with colleges and universities; however, COVID-19 forced Graduate Philadelphia to cancel recruitment events where they networked with colleges and universities, and their revenue decreased as a result. A portion of this loan will also bridge the period until these events resume at their former frequency and contracts with colleges and universities return. With this capital on hand, Graduate Philadelphia can continue to provide the education and workforce development services that so many Philadelphians depend on to achieve their long-term goals.
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
KIPP New York (KIPP NY) is a network of 16 charter schools serving 6,400 K-12 students in the boroughs of Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. KIPP NY is a member of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), a non-profit network of public charter schools that have supported early childhood, elementary, middle, and high school students since 1994. This loan will help finance the acquisition of the site for KIPP NY's newest high school campus in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx. When the school opens in 2024, it will begin offering a high-quality education to approximately 300 students; by the time it reaches full capacity in 2028, it will serve over 1,000.

Partners: BlueHub Capital, Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF)
Acceleration Day and Evening Academy (ACCEL), Alabama’s first tuition-free public charter school, serves high school students in grades 9-12 from Mobile, Baldwin, and Washington Counties. ACCEL provides flexible, accelerated academics and critical wraparound supports to Mobile area students who are at risk of dropping out or have already dropped out of high school. Due to high demand for its programs, ACCEL requested and was granted a modification to its original charter that allowed it to add grades 6-8. This loan will allow ACCEL to expand into a nearby facility – and serve an additional 200 students who might not otherwise have access to a high-quality education.

Partners: BlueHub Capital, HOPE Credit Union
SEED is the nation's first and only network of public, college-preparatory boarding schools designed for students who need – and deserve – a 24-hour learning environment to achieve their full potential. NFF’s loans in this New Markets Tax Credit project will support the construction of a brand-new SEED campus in South Los Angeles on a property that has remained vacant since the 1992 Rodney King civil unrest.

This campus will form part of a larger community development that includes affordable housing and a major public transit hub. SEED LA will serve 400 high school students, focusing on youth who are homeless or housing insecure, have an immediate family member who is incarcerated, or have interacted with Los Angeles County Children and Family Services. In addition to a high-quality education, SEED LA will provide wrap around services for youth who face barriers inside and outside the school, with the goal of creating a safe environment where those students can achieve academic success and thrive beyond the classroom.

Partners: Chase Bank, Capital Impact Partners (CIP), Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Weingart Foundation
Citizens of the World is an intimate network of high-achieving, community-based public schools. Their mission is to provide a high-quality education to a diverse community of students that reflect the abundant socioeconomic, racial and cultural diversity of their surroundings, developing their abilities, confidence, and sense of responsibility for themselves and their community. This loan will support the construction of a new, permanent location for grades 3-5 on the school’s Mar Vista campus. It will allow the school to bring the 5th grade back to the elementary campus and provide a students with a modern and updated site, adding art, enrichment, play, lunch and library to the space, and creating a more secure campus. In addition to bringing these activities into the same facility as the classrooms, this expansion will grow the school’s total capacity – meaning that Citizens of the World will be able to offer an exemplary education to more students.

Partners: Civic Builders
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: BlueHub Capital, Hope Credit Union
Compass Rose Education (CRE) is a network of tuition-free, public charter schools that combine academic success with personal growth so that K-12 students across Texas can navigate life’s big opportunities. Its rigorous, college-preparation-focused curriculum has enabled its student population, nearly 90% of which are from low-income households and 90% of which are students of color, to academically outperform those from the school district in almost all state tests.

NFF and BlueHub Capital are each providing CRE with $3.6 million in refinancing a loan which supported the renovation of a building that holds CRE’s first San Antonio campus and 850 students. Together with a previous $1.1 million loan to CRE and a $1.4 million loan to CRE’s developer and landlord Building Hope, NFF has invested about $6 million into CRE’s efforts to bring high-quality education to students across Texas.

Partners: BlueHub Capital
Building Hope builds the capacity of charter schools nationwide by providing unparalleled facilities, financial, and operational services so that schools can focus on and devote more resources to educating students in underserved communities. NFF and BlueHub Capital are each providing Building Hope with a $1.4 million facility loan to finance the construction of a new charter school: Compass Rose Journey. The Compass Rose charter school network has a proven track record for providing its students – 90% of whom come from low-income households and 90% who identify as BIPOC – with a high-quality education. The Journey campus will be the third Compass Rose charter school in the San Antonio area and will enroll up to 740 students.

Partners: BlueHub Capital

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