PSP Invests $2.6 Million in Startup, Expansion, and Incubation of District, Charter and Private Schools

Latest grants will fund new district high school, expansion of high-performing charter school, and planning for new Catholic high school to serve at-risk students.

The Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) today announced it will invest $2.6 million in grants from the Great Schools Fund to create more than 850 new seats in high-quality, innovative district, charter, and Catholic schools. The $100 million fund invests in the incubation, startup, expansion and turnaround of schools of all types across Philadelphia.

The largest of the new grants, $2 million over four years, will support the launch of a new district high school. Altogether, the four investments include:

$2 million to support the opening of Building 21, an innovative, competency-based district high school, in September 2014

$575,000 for the expansion of New Foundations Charter School, a high-performing school in Northeast Philadelphia

$88,000 to support early-stage planning for regional collaboration among a group of district and charter schools in North Philadelphia

$25,000 to Liguori Academy to plan and design a new alternative Catholic high school for at-risk students

“It’s exciting to see such variety of new and improved school options,” said Mark Gleason, Executive Director of PSP. “Innovation and high achievement exist in schools of all types – district, charter and private. These leadership teams have demonstrated their ability to build effective teams of teachers and envision ambitious new models of education to put more students on the path to college and careers.”

To date, PSP’s Great Schools Fund has invested $31.4 million in district, charter, and private schools to create approximately 14,350 seats in high-performing schools. About 83 percent of students enrolled in the 27 Fund-supported schools come from low-income households; 94 percent come from minority households and 16 percent are classified as having special-education needs. The Fund, which pools philanthropic dollars to target and leverage investments, has raised just over $65 million toward its goal of $100 million.

Laura Shubilla, co-founder of Building 21, said, “We are grateful for this support and look forward to working hard with our future students, teachers, families and all of our partners to make this school a success.”

Paul Stadelberger, founder and CEO of New Foundations Charter Schools, said, “We are honored and excited to receive this grant from PSP to enable New Foundations Charter School school to reach our goals of providing students with the academic, social, and emotional foundations and skills to become high achieving members of the community.”

Building 21:

PSP is investing a $2 million startup grant over four years to Building 21 to open a new district high school located in North Philadelphia. The school will use a new “competency-based” educational model that engages students through individualized learning, relationships, projects and technology. Students progress and earn credentials as they demonstrate mastery of key knowledge and skills. Building 21 will be non-selective in its admission of students and represents a broader effort by the School District of Philadelphia to reimagine its high schools. The school will serve 150 students next year and grow to serve 600 by 2017 at the former Ferguson Elementary School Building in North Philadelphia. Current 8th grade students will be able to apply to the school, along with two other District high schools opening next fall, beginning on March 24 via the School District website.

New Foundations Charter School (NFCS):

PSP is investing a $575,000 growth grant in the New Foundations Charter School (NFCS) to serve an additional 250 students at the Northeast Philadelphia charter school. NFCS currently enrolls 1,250 students and has SRC approval to grow to 1,500 students by 2015. The majority of the seats will be added in grades 9-12. All NFCS students – including its 65 percent economically disadvantaged population– academically outperform city and state averages. For example, 77 percent of the school’s K-8 students are reading on grade level, and 78 percent of low-income students are reading on grade level.

North Philadelphia Education Compact (NPEC):

PSP is investing an $88,000 incubation grant in the North Philadelphia Education Compact (NPEC) to plan for the addition of more seats in high-quality schools among a network of school partners. The initiative is a collaboration among Aspira of PA, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Nueva Esperanza, Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, and the School District of Philadelphia. The incubation grant will fund the development of a comprehensive education strategy to improve student outcomes in a defined geographic area in North Philadelphia (E-W: Frankford Ave to Broad St; N-S: Roosevelt Blvd to Girard Ave.) The group will evaluate strengths and needs within the zone and develop strategies to increase access to high-quality education, such as redefining feeder patterns, identifying growth opportunities, and increasing collaboration among schools.

Liguori Academy:

PSP is investing a $25,000 incubation grant in Liguori Academy to plan and design a new alternative Catholic high school for at-risk students. The funding will be used to conduct a feasibility study and begin planning for the creation of a new school serving 250 students. Liguori Academy will be designed as a “second chance” Catholic high school, which will seek to specifically serve populations that are at risk of failing out of the traditional Archdiocesan high schools in Philadelphia.

About the Great Schools Fund

The Fund invests in K-12 schools of any type with the capacity to deliver outstanding educational outcomes for children in the city, including district, charter, and private schools. The goal of the Fund is to create 35,000 seats in high-performing schools in Philadelphia by 2016-17 by turning around low-performing schools, expanding high performing schools, or creating new high-quality schools. PSP’s investment team conducts a rigorous screening process for grant applicants to evaluate their capacity for delivering strong educational outcomes; its recommendations are vetted by an investment committee before being presented to the PSP Board of Directors for approval.