The Education Innovator #6
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The Education Innovator
 April 7, 2003 • Number 6
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  Past issues
What's inside...
Raza Development Fund and Charter Schools
What's New
Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities grant competition now open; OII seeking grant reviewers; and more
Innovations in the News
Colorado's state legislature is sending a bill to the Governor that would provide vouchers to students; plus news on school improvement, charter schools, magnet schools, and homeschooling

Raza Development Fund Makes Loans to Charter Schools in Latino Communities
The Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities program, administered by the Office of Innovation and Improvement, provides grants to public and nonprofit organizations to help raise capital for charter school facilities. One of the toughest challenges of starting a charter school is that it is difficult and expensive to obtain space where classes can be taught. The Raza Development Fund (RDF), in association with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and its Charter School Development Initiative (CSDI), provides loans to charter schools in Latino communities.

Over five years, the Raza Development Fund (RDF) will work with 30 charter schools across the nation serving disadvantaged students in Latino communities. RDF will enhance the schools' access to credit by making direct loans to schools either as a sole lender or in conjunction with one of RDF's commercial lending partners. Many of these loans will be possible only because of educational, business, and financial underwriting by RDF, CSDI, and the NCLR Community Division. RDF also has designed a comprehensive plan for technical assistance both on the educational and financial fronts.

One of the schools the program is helping is the Academia Semillas del Pueblo Charter School in East Los Angeles, California:

  • RDF, in partnership with Amicus Bank, provided a $1.4 million loan for the acquisition and renovation of a school facility.
  • RDF is using its grant funds to guarantee repayment of a subordinate loan that, combined with some funds the school had, enabled the charter school to meet 30 percent of the cost to purchase and renovate the school facility. As a result, the school could borrow the remaining 70 percent of the funds necessary to purchase and renovate a school facility.
  • Without this guarantee, a loan of this nature could not be made and the school could not purchase, renovate, and operate in its own facility.
The National Council of La Raza's two main priorities are community development and closing the educational achievement gap for Latinos. RDF's mission is to provide for the investment of capital into the Latino community to stimulate economic and community development. RDF especially focuses on facilities acquisition and financing to obtain housing for alternative education programs and community-based charter schools.

For more information about RDF and the National Council of La Raza, go to


What's New
Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities grant competition now open
The notice inviting applications for the 2003 Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities program was announced in the Federal Register on April 3. The grants to public and nonprofit organizations provide assistance to help charter schools obtain school facilities. (April 3)

OII seeking grant reviewers
The Office of Innovation and Improvement is looking for peer reviewers for the following upcoming grant competitions: Public Charter Schools Program, Teaching American History, Professional Development for Arts Educators, Arts Models Development, and Advanced Placement Incentives. Please go to for specific instructions. (March 31).

Version 3.0 of the School Improvement KnowledgeBase
Version 3.0 of the School Improvement KnowledgeBase is now available. This database was developed to assist schools identified as "in need of improvement" by providing guidance and resources on developing a school improvement plan, implementing the improvement process, and communicating with the public. KnowledgeBase was initiated by the Region VII Comprehensive Center at the University of Oklahoma with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, in conjunction with Northrop Grumman Information Technology. To preview this database, go to and select School Improvement KnowledgeBase. (March 31)

Funding Opportunity
The competition is now open for grants under the Public Charter Schools Program. The deadline to submit applications is April 28, 2003. For more information, go to


Innovations in the News

  • The Colorado House of Representatives agreed to Senate amendments to a measure that would allow some low-income children to receive indirect state funding to attend private schools. [More-USA Today] (April 2)
  • One of Florida's three voucher programs is providing scholarships to private schools for more than 15,000 children. The Florida Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program allows businesses to divert a portion of their state taxes to these school-choice vouchers. [More- Orlando Sentinel] (March 21)

School Improvement
  • Of the 50 or so New York City high schools on the Chancellor's list of schools deemed successful, 12 are on campuses of the City University of New York. Could being on a college campus make a difference? [More- The New York Times] (March 24)
  • Top elementary schools in New York City spent 76% less than the citywide average, according to a New York Daily News analysis. [More- The New York Daily News] (March 5)

Charter Schools
  • Public educator Barbara Ernest knew little about charter schools, but learned quickly after she and a small group of teachers started an IDEAL charter school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The success of this charter school is bringing students back to the public school system. [More- New Orleans Times-Picayune] (March 27)
  • The Buffalo Board of Education passed a resolution to go into the charter school business. The goal of this move is to bring greater financial stability to the district, enhance student achievement, and create greater parental choice of schools and neighborhood school opportunities. [More-The Buffalo News] (March 27)
  • Education reformers are suggesting that the KIPP Academy in Houston, along with 14 other KIPP schools in 11 states and the District of Columbia, may have found a better way to educate disadvantaged students. [More-] (March 24)

Magnet Schools
  • A school superintendent in Rhode Island is planning a new twist to the "magnet" idea for schools. He is proposing a program for gifted students that would draw them to concentrated nine-week sessions in different disciplines at different schools. One school would specialize in literature, another in economics, another in math and science, and another in the arts. [More-The Providence Journal] (March 25)

  • Networks that give homeschoolers a chance to participate in extracurricular activities have sprung up across the U.S. as the homeschooling movement has grown. About 90% of homeschoolers are now involved in extracurriculars, studies have shown. [More- The Christian Science Monitor] (March 25)

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Last Modified: 04/26/2011