PSP invests $4.7 million in the expansion of high-quality schools

Grants from Great Schools Fund will create seats for 2,000 more Philadelphia students to attend high-quality schools

The Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) today announced it will invest $4.7 million in grants from its Great Schools Fund to support the incubation and growth of high-performing K-12 public and private schools in Philadelphia. To date, the Fund has raised $60 million in commitments and invested $26 million in the expansion and creation of high-quality schools of all types – district, charter, and private – to serve approximately 12,900 additional Philadelphia students.

Grants from the Great Schools Fund announced today include:

  • $3.5 million to Mastery Charter Schools to serve 1,638 more students in high-performing turnaround schools. Mastery operates twelve schools serving over 8,000 predominantly low-income and minority students in Philadelphia and has a successful track record of transforming previously low-performing schools. Mastery Charter Schools’ Thomas Campus, currently serving grades 7-12, is opening up a 650-seat elementary school. In addition, Mastery has been granted preliminary approval to begin the turnaround of Pastorius Elementary in fall 2013 as part of the School District’s Renaissance school initiative. (SRC final approval of the charter agreement for Pastorius is pending.) The funding will also be used to expand four of Mastery’s existing turnaround schools: Mastery Charter Schools Clymer Elementary, Grover Cleveland Campus, Pickett Campus and Hardy Williams Academy. All expansions were approved by the School Reform Commission prior to 2012 as part of charter renewals or the facilities master planning process. See this fact sheet for additional details.
  • $1.1 million to Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School to serve 320 more students in a new middle school. Boys’ Latin is an academically rigorous college-preparatory high school in West Philadelphia serving 460 predominantly low-income and minority students. Last year, 81 percent of the school’s graduates went on to college. Of the 460 students, 99 percent are minority, 79 percent are economically disadvantaged, and about 80 percent of the students live in the surrounding West Philadelphia neighborhood. The School Reform Commission approved the middle school in June 2012.
  • $50,000 to Building 21 to plan and design a new high school model in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia. Building 21 is collaborating with the School District to create a new school model that will customize learning for each student by adapting the curriculum to meet the learner. Building 21 will use blended learning, competency-based progression, and college and career pathways to engage students in rigorous and personalized learning.
  • $55,000 to Freire Charter School for technical assistance. Freire previously received a $350,000 growth grant from the Great Schools Fund in 2012 to add a middle school to its high school; the middle school opened last fall. The Great Schools Fund sets aside 2 percent of investable dollars for “technical assistance” to support portfolio schools seeking to improve in distinct areas by adopting best practices and proven tools that will support high levels of student achievement. The grant will allow Freire to implement the Nesso data system to help leadership, teachers, parents, and students in understanding and improving academic results.

Expanding access to great schools requires both scaling up successful schools and investing in innovation,” said Mark Gleason, executive director of PSP. “Great schools come in all types, but they share common elements – namely, outstanding teachers and visionary leaders who believe all students can achieve at high levels. With these investments the Fund has now invested in 26 Philadelphia schools, including district-run, public charter and non-public schools.”

PSP’s Great Schools Fund pools philanthropic dollars from a diverse group of funders to strategically invest in the incubation, startup, expansion and turnaround of schools of all types across Philadelphia. PSP has raised $60 million toward the Fund’s $100 million goal. The Fund accepts applications on a rolling basis and it plans to make additional investments in 2013.

“We are pleased to receive the generous support of the Partnership as we begin our expansion into middle school grades,” said Dave Hardy, CEO of Boys’ Latin. “We believe our ability to reach these young men will result in even better results for our students. We welcome this greater opportunity to address the needs of boys, who remain the most challenging population in public education.”

PSP also announced it is awarding a $40,000 grant to Folk Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School (FACTS) from its School Talent Fund, a resource established to help schools and school systems in Philadelphia identify, recruit and retain effective leaders. The $250,000 School Talent Fund is still accepting applications for 2013.

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 traditional district, charter, and private schools. The goal of the Fund is to replace the 35,000 lowest performing seats in Philadelphia by 2016-17 with higher performing ones 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.