NewSchools Venture Fund Announces Launch of Pacific Charter School Development

April 13, 2004

Public-Private Partnership Will Help Solve Charter School Facilities Challenge in California

SAN FRANCISCO – April 13, 2004 – NewSchools Venture Fund today announced the launch of Pacific Charter School Development (PCSD), a new nonprofit organization that will provide financing and facilities development to high-performing charter schools, with plans to serve more than 11,000 public school students by creating 30 new buildings in the Los Angeles area over the next five years. This innovative organization was incubated with an initial operating grant of $400,000 by NewSchools Venture Fund, a venture philanthropy firm working to transform public education.

Through its work with public education leaders and charter school entrepreneurs, NewSchools recognized the crucial need for new, high-quality public schools, but also saw that financing and developing facilities posed significant hurdles for the entrepreneurs who are creating these schools.

Guided by that knowledge, NewSchools incubated Pacific Charter School Development with a revolutionary aim: to enable charter schools to better focus on the needs of their students by lifting the burden of facilities development.

“We knew that we needed to get successful charter school leaders out of hard hats and back to focusing on the students in their classrooms,” said Kim Smith, CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund. “With its exclusive focus on developing high-quality, low-cost facilities for charter schools, Pacific Charter School Development will help increase the supply of outstanding public charter schools serving low-income communities in California.”

To lead Pacific Charter School Development, NewSchools tapped Glenn Pierce, who has significant expertise in both corporate finance and education management. Since 1997, he has helped to develop more than 35 charter schools across the country as Chief Financial Officer of Advantage Schools, and as both Chief Financial Officer and Chief Development Officer for leading charter school developer Charter Schools USA. Pierce is also a recent graduate of the Urban Superintendents Academy, a program run by The Broad Center for Superintendents that prepares talented executives to become public school system leaders.

“Over the last 10 years, charter school entrepreneurs have achieved great initial success and shown that flexibility in exchange for accountability can result in excellent public schools,” said Glenn Pierce, CEO of Pacific Charter School Development. “But in order to ensure continued quality and scale among these innovative new public schools, we must provide the necessary infrastructure upon which they can grow and flourish.”

In its first five years, PCSD plans to develop nearly 30 new charter school buildings, which together will serve more than 11,000 students. The organization will focus initially on the creation of new public charter school buildings in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District, which will complement the district’s own massive, multi-year building program to reduce overcrowding. In March, voters approved a $3.87 billion bond to repair and upgrade school facilities, and to build an additional 49,000 classroom “seats” — about 50 new schools — for the district’s public school students.

“As a Los Angeles community member and strong believer in public education, I think it is unacceptable that so many children are subject to a sub-standard educational experience,” said Russ Pillar, a PCSD founding board member and Managing Director of Critical Mass Venture Holdings. “Through public-private partnerships like PCSD, I am excited to be part of a solution that seeks to right this wrong.”

NewSchools’ work with PCSD is part of its Charter Accelerator Fund, a $40+ million initiative that is focused on fueling the supply of high-quality public charter schools in cities nationwide. As part of its forward-thinking strategy to support charter school facilities, NewSchools also announced in February that it had granted $1.5 million to Civic Builders, New York City’s first nonprofit developer of charter school facilities.

“NewSchools has a unique ability to spot a need and draw on innovative techniques from other sectors in order to incubate new, creative, entrepreneurial solutions,” said Jim Shelton, Program Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Those of us supporting the development of new schools look forward to seeing what school leaders can achieve when they don’t have to worry about finding and financing a school building.”


Pacific Charter School Development (PCSD) is a nonprofit organization focused on providing underserved California students with high-quality charter school facilities. PCSD identifies, acquires and develops charter school facilities that will in turn be leased back to academically successful charter school organizations. PCSD provides charter school entrepreneurs with high-quality, low-cost facility options, gives lenders a less risky alternative to individual charter school financing, and offers charitable foundations a way to accelerate the growth of high-quality public charter schools to serve children in need.


NewSchools Venture Fund is a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm working to transform public education through powerful ideas and passionate entrepreneurs so that all children — especially those currently underserved — have the opportunity to succeed in the 21st century. Founded in 1998, NewSchools invested its first $20 million fund in nine nonprofit and for-profit organizations, and now has a $70 million second fund under development from more than ten individual and institutional donors. NewSchools’ investments focus on accelerating the growth of nonprofit charter school systems, including investments in Aspire Public Schools, Green Dot Public Schools and Leadership Public Schools; and on enhancing the capacity of school districts to produce high levels of student achievement, including investments in New Leaders for New Schools, Teachscape and Teach for America. For more information, visit