Loans: Charter Schools and Education

Loans: Charter Schools and Education

Featured Loan: Franklin Cummings Tech

Creating pathways to economic advancement in Boston

$8 million participation in a $38.5 million debt financing structure (March 2024) 

Franklin Cummings Tech (FC Tech) is one of New England’s oldest engineering and industrial technology colleges. FC Tech’s vision is to develop diverse tech talent and support graduates in building generational wealth through their careers. FC Tech has been remarkably successful in accomplishing this: 73% of its students are people of color, 46% are first-generation college students, and while the average household income for incoming students is $33,000, the average salary for graduates just one year after graduation is $51,700.

FC Tech’s current three-building campus, built in 1908, is in the South End, an affluent, majority-white neighborhood of Boston, MA. To best prepare students for modern technology careers, FCT is selling its existing campus and embarking on the construction of a new LEED Gold certified, 68,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in Roxbury’s Nubian Square, a neighborhood that has long been the center of Black culture in Boston.

The building itself will become a teaching tool featuring visible building systems with exposed structure, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and sprinkler systems to support project-based learning curriculums in sustainable building and construction management. It will also include a renewable energy rooftop learning lab, with solar electric panels and roof-mounted wind turbines, a ground-level automotive shop, and a walk-in optical shop to support student hands-on learning.

NFF’s $8 million loan is part of a $38.5 million debt financing structure that includes five additional lenders: The Property Casualty InitiativeThe LIFE InitiativeMassachusetts Housing Investment CorporationLow Income Investment Fund, and Cambridge Savings Bank. In addition to the debt financing, there is also New Markets Tax Credit financing, funding from private foundations, a grant from the City of Boston, and FC Tech equity.
This financing will support Franklin Cummings Tech as it continues cultivating a diverse and supportive learning environment for current and future generations of scholars. 

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)
Catholic Charities Brooklyn & Queens (CCBQ) was founded in 1899 on principles of compassion, social justice, and the Catholic faith. Since its inception, CCBQ has been providing quality social services in Brooklyn and Queens with a special focus on serving people with developmental disabilities and who live with mental illness. It currently offers more than 160 programs and services for youth and adults. One of the oldest and largest faith-based developers of affordable housing in the country, Catholic Charities provides 4,330 units of housing for low-income older adults, families, the formerly unhoused, and HIV-positive individuals. 822 Dumont Millennium LLC has signed a ten-year lease with Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services (CCNS), which manages the majority of CCBQ’s programs. This financing will help the organization pay off their acquisition loan and renovate their building, previously a school, into a childcare facility that offers Head Start and Early Head Start programs in the predominantly Black and Latinx neighborhood of East New York. These free, federally-funded programs promote school readiness for children from low-income families. Early Head Start serves pregnant women and families with children under the age of three, while Head Start programs serve children between three and five years old. When completed, the facility will enable CCNS to expand its Head Start and Early Head Start programs by at least 30%. Expanding these programs to a new location will address overcrowding at CCNS’ current facility and help families access childcare and essential early education.

Partner: LISC
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.
For over 20 years, UNITE-LA has partnered with educational institutions and businesses in Los Angeles to improve the local public education system so that all children and youth succeed in college, career, and beyond. UNITE-LA works to increase access to high-quality early childhood education, develop career pathways in high-growth industries, improve college access and success, and ensure workforce readiness. Through their programming and systems change efforts, UNITE-LA's mission is to support equitable economic mobility and well-being for youth and adults in Los Angeles.

Supported by the Hilton Foundation, this zero-interest loan will help UNITE-LA cover ongoing organizational and programmatic costs while waiting for delayed reimbursements from government contracts and grants. With support from this financing, UNITE-LA can continue to offer its education and workforce development programs that provide youth and adults with services and resources needed to succeed in education and beyond.
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.

Partner: 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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