Investing in Charter Schools: A Guide for Donors

Bryan C. Hassel, Julie Kowal, and Sarah Crittendon
The Philanthropy Roundtable
April 2009

This updated donors' guide to charter schools maintains the four strategic priorities of its 2004 predecessor (increasing the supply of good schools, ameliorating operational hurdles, setting standards and measures of quality, and encouraging a charter-friendly policy framework) and adds a fifth (improving the supply and quality of human capital in this sector). It's evident that the authors have benefited from lessons learned over the past half decade. This edition is helped by their extensive conversations with philanthropists and charter school operators about how they've replicated good schools, cultivated strong school leaders, and managed costs. Their sources are almost a who's who in the charter world. The guide also delves into current political conditions and charter laws. One prominent theme is the need for more funding sources for charter schools, preferably including smaller philanthropists that find "niche" funding or collaborative opportunities. (The guide includes several potential ways of "leveraging smaller investments," such as an ESL program for a charter school.) The many real-world examples underscore the traction gained by the charter school movement in the past five years. But the challenges of access, quality, funding, and general opposition remain and will require significant investment to continue to expand charters' presence--and success--across the land. Check it out here.

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