BOISE-BASED EDUCATION NONPROFIT BLUUM AWARDED $17.1 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDS TO EXPAND AND GROW HIGH-PERFORMING PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS
The Idaho nonprofit Bluum has been awarded a $17.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Charter Schools Program (CSP). Bluum, a Boise-based statewide nonprofit charter school support entity, is project lead for the “Communities of Excellence” consortium and will be responsible for allocating the Federal grant support to sub grantee public charter schools. Bluum is joined in the consortium by the Idaho Public Charter School Commission, the Idaho State Board of Education, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation and the nonprofit charter facilities finance group Building Hope.
Through this private/public “Communities of Excellence” consortium, the federal CSP grant promises to increase the number of quality charter school seats in Idaho by 8,200 students within the next five years, especially for Idaho’s most educationally disadvantaged and rural students through public charter school start-up, replication and expansion.
Terry Ryan, Chief Executive Officer of Bluum, says “Idaho is the nation’s fastest growing state and we need to build more schools to meet the various needs of our expanding and diversifying student population. This federal grant will allow Idaho’s high-performing charter school sector to do its part to support Idaho’s growing communities while providing new school options for parents and students.”
“The intent of charter schools is to provide school choice opportunities for students and parents. Unfortunately, Idaho’s most educationally disadvantaged and rural students are disproportionally underrepresented in most of the state’s charter schools. In addition, with the steady increase in the number of charter schools being authorized in Idaho comes the responsibility for these schools to begin sharing proven successes for the good of the entire public education system. Two of the stated goals of this grant are to address these critical areas, which is why it earned my support,” says Matt Freeman, Executive Director of the Idaho State Board of Education.
Alan Reed, Chairman of the Idaho Public Charter School Commission, says demand for charter schools is high in Idaho, and this grant “provides the IPCSC with invaluable resources to grow and strengthen our work, focus on encouraging increased diversity of student populations in charters, and ultimately continue to perform as an authorizer on the leading edge of quality in the school choice community.”
Joe Bruno, President of Building Hope, believes “Idaho has the opportunity to leapfrog the national charter school movement by applying nationally effective practices, as well as supporting and building on unique innovations, especially in rural, which are nationally transferable. Building Hope is excited to be a partner in this work.”
It is expected that a total of 19 sub-grantee schools would participate in this CSP grant over its five-year term. Nine would be start-up public charter schools while five would be expansion and five would be replication schools. All applicants for grant support must be approved by a public charter school authorizer to be eligible for CSP grant support.
For more information on the grant, visit www.bluum.org/idaho-csp-grant
Federal CSP Program Description
The CSP State Entities program is newly authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (20 U.S.C. 7221-7221j). Prior to enactment of the ESSA, the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), authorized the Secretary to make awards to State educational agencies to enable them to conduct charter school subgrant programs in their States. The CSP State Entities program is under new law and has different eligibility requirements, priorities, definitions, application requirements, and selection criteria.
The major purposes of the CSP are to expand opportunities for all students, particularly traditionally underserved students, to attend charter schools and meet challenging State academic standards; provide financial assistance for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of public charter schools; increase the number of high-quality charter schools available to students across the United States; evaluate the impact of charter schools on student achievement, families, and communities; share best practices between charter schools and other public schools; encourage States to provide facilities support to charter schools; and support efforts to strengthen the charter school authorizing process.
The CSP grants to State Entities (CFDA number 84.282A) is a competitive grant program that enables State entities to award subgrants to eligible applicants in their State to open and prepare for the operation of new charter schools and to replicate and expand high-quality charter schools. Grant funds may also be used by the State entity to provide technical assistance to eligible applicants and authorized public chartering agencies in opening and preparing for the operation of new charter schools, or replicating or expanding high-quality charter schools; and to work with authorized public chartering agencies to improve authorizing quality, including developing capacity for, and conducting, fiscal oversight and auditing of charter schools.