SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has awarded three nonprofit public charter school operators grants through the federally funded Charter Schools Program (CSP). The grants will total $1.2 million over two years and support start-up costs and curriculum materials at four schools in their initial years of operation.
ISBE administers the $42 million Charter Schools Program for the purpose of expanding the number of high-quality and educationally diverse charter schools in Illinois and evaluating the effects of charter schools on student academic achievement, staff, and parents.
ISBE awarded the first CSP grants to ASPIRA Business and Finance, LEARN Charter Network (for two schools), and Frazier Preparatory Academy, based on a thorough application process and three external reviews. Each awardee submitted detailed plans for involving families and community members in the design of the school, attracting underserved students and addressing their needs, recruiting and retaining diverse and high-quality staff, and implementing rigorous accountability mechanisms.
“Congratulations to ASPIRA Business and Finance, LEARN Charter Network, and Frazier Preparatory Academy," said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “Our public schools must adapt to meet the evolving needs of students and families in a changing world. I thank all of the applicants and awardees of the Charter Schools Program grants for bringing creative thinking and innovative design to the table to expand opportunities for Illinois students. I encourage educators and administrators across the state to consider the potential of a new public charter school in their community and apply for the next round of CSP grants."
The first three CSP awardees will use the grant funds to increase learning opportunities for students, provide professional development for teachers, and promote family engagement:
- ASPIRA Business and Finance (ABF) – Committed to preparing students with the tools they need to succeed in postsecondary education, careers, and beyond. The business and entrepreneurship foci promote financial literacy, career preparation, and 21st-century readiness. ABF serves a student population that is more than 94 percent students of color, 96 percent eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and 90 percent future first-generation college students.
- LEARN Charter Network campuses 7 and 8 – Strives to provide children with the academic foundation and ambition to earn a college degree. As a steppingstone to LEARN 8 Middle School, LEARN 7 Elementary School serves students in kindergarten through grade 5 and provides scholars with a strong primary foundation to excel in high-quality, college prep high schools. LEARN 8 Middle School serves students in grades 6 through 8. LEARN Charter Network has developed a system of learning that ensures consistent and effective student-centered instruction.
- Frazier Preparatory Academy – Dedicated to providing parents in high-need communities with a high-quality public school option. Frazier Preparatory Academy's educational program personalizes learning for all students by maximizing integration of exceptional classroom teaching with innovative blended learning technologies and enrichment opportunities.
ISBE plans to release the next Charter Schools Program Request for Proposals for both design and initial implementation grants in January 2017.