Broad Foundation Invests in Charter Schools

$4.74 million investment will create seven new charter schools in California

Los Angeles, Ca. – December 10, 2002 – The Broad Foundation today announced an investment of up to $4.74 million in Aspire Public Schools to create seven new charter schools by 2007 . The goal of this investment is to dramatically increase the number and quality of charter schools in California.

Eli Broad, Founder of The Broad Foundation and a public education reform advocate, said: “ Charter schools address this century’s most important civil rights issue by providing high quality public schools in our nation’s neediest communities. Our investment in Aspire Public Schools provides much needed choice for parents seeking an excellent education for their children, and creates maneuvering room for innovative school principals and superintendents who, in the current system, simply cannot get the kind of freedom and flexibility they need to dramatically improve student achievement.”

Aspire Public Schools is a Northern California based non-profit that has a proven track record of success opening, operating, running and fiscally managing high-performing charter schools in urban areas. The organization was started in 1998 by veteran public educator Don Shalvey. A charter management organization, Aspire currently operates seven schools in Northern California that serve more than 2,000 students, and has been consistently successful in improving student achievement in all of its schools. The Broad Foundation’s investment will enable Aspire to double in size over the next five years by adding seven new schools. The schools will be located in underserved urban areas throughout California including Oakland, Sacramento, Stockton and Los Angeles.

“The Broad Foundation and New Schools Venture Fund have consistently supported charter schools, and we are thrilled to have their commitment to help us achieve our mission of being a positive catalyst for change in California’s educational system,” said Don Shalvey, CEO of Aspire Public Schools. “We look forward to building new public charter schools that urban families and students can depend on to receive a high-quality education to prepare them for college.”

This investment is the first installment of a $10.5 million grant by The Broad Foundation to New Schools Venture Fund’s Charter Accelerator Fund. The Fund will incubate four to six charter management organizations over the next three years. Charter school management organizations are scalable institutions that manage systems of public charter schools. These entrepreneurial organizations align educational philosophy, instructional design, and business operations with the priorities of parents, teachers and community members. Charter management organizations are designed to build accountable, sustainable institutions for entrepreneurial educators, and parents seeking quality public education opportunities and choices for their children.

“The Broad Foundation’s grant will enable us to continue increasing the supply and quality of public charter schools,” said Kim Smith, president and CEO of New Schools Venture Fund. “We will continue to invest in non-profit charter school management organizations like Aspire that are building consistently high quality, sustainable and scalable charter schools.”

Broad concluded: “We believe that the only way to change the prevailing culture in our public education system is to challenge the status quo. Supporting new and innovative ideas is the best way to achieve this. We don’t need to dismantle our public education system. But we do need to radically improve our nation’s public schools by tackling the issues that are at the root of the problem. That is what this investment will do.”

The Broad Foundation’s mission is to dramatically improve K-12 urban public education through better governance, management and labor relations. The Foundation’s major initiatives include the one million dollar Broad Prize, awarded each year to urban school districts which have made the greatest overall improvement in student achievement; The Broad Center for Superintendents, a national organization focused on identifying, training, and supporting outstanding leaders to become successful urban school superintendents; and The Broad Institute for School Boards, an annual training program for newly elected school board members that will increase student achievement through improved governance.

Aspire Public Schools is a not-for-profit charter school organization currently operating seven schools in Northern California and serving K-10 students, with a home office in Redwood City. The organization was founded in 1998 by veteran public educator Don Shalvey to enrich students’ lives and reshape local public school systems. Its mission is to increase the academic performance of California’s diverse students; to develop outstanding educators; to catalyze change in public schools; and to share their successful practices with other forward-thinking educators.

The New Schools Venture Fund is a non-profit venture philanthropy fund focused on dramatically improving under-performing public schools. New Schools Venture Fund identifies entrepreneurs with the potential to have tremendous impact on our public education system, and supports them with financial resources, hands-on strategy consulting, and access to a diverse network of education, business, and policy experts. Founded in 1998, the New Schools Venture Fund I, a $20 million dollar fund, has supported a portfolio of nine scalable, sustainable, high-impact education ventures.

Media Contact:

Julie Petersen, NewSchools Venture Fund
Phone: (415) 615-6863
jpetersen@newschools.org