The competition is open to individual charter schools in states that chose not to participate in the State Educational Agencies (SEA) competition, or in states whose application for SEA funds was denied. A charter school may apply for funds whether or not it previously applied for or received funds under the CSP for planning or implementing its school. Schools applying must have been in operation for at least three consecutive years and must have demonstrated overall success, including:
- Substantial progress in improving student academic achievement;
- High levels of parent satisfaction; and
- The management and leadership necessary to overcome initial start-up problems and establish a thriving, financially viable charter school.