The federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) provides money to create new high-quality public charter schools, as well as to disseminate information about ones with a proven track record. Federal funds are also available to replicate and expand successful schools; help charter schools find suitable facilities; reward high-quality charter schools that form exemplary collaborations with the non-chartered public school sector; and invest in national activities and initiatives that support charter schools.
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools has embarked on a quest to identify high-performing charter schools across the country that have relied on CSP funds to get their feet off the ground. Check back each month to learn about a new charter school, and be sure to share the stories you find here on social media with #CSPAction.
Capital City Public Charter School
Capital City Public Charter School was the first parent-founded charter school in the nation’s capital, opening its doors to students in 2000. The school’s mission is to serve a diverse student body through an EL Education model (formerly Expeditionary Learning) that ultimately “graduates young adults who are self-directed, intellectually engaged, and possess a commitment to personal and civic responsibility.”
Rowe Elementary School
Rowe Elementary is a college prep public charter school in Chicago, Illinois with a mission to instill the expectation to go to college and provide rigorous academics along with emotional support to its students and families. Pride, success, and honor are celebrated traits of Rowe students (“scholars”), and the school provides a holistic education to guide its students, who are largely from low-income and minority backgrounds, through the path to college. Rowe Elementary is an independent charter school run in partnership with the Northwestern University Settlement Association. The Northwestern Settlement has operated community programs in arts, education, and social services for Chicago’s West Town residents for more than 125 years.
DeLaSalle Education Center
Kansas City, MO
The DeLaSalle Education Center (DeLaSalle) provides an alternative education option to students ages 14 to 20 living in Kansas City, Missouri. The charter school’s goal is straightforward: help each and every student achieve academic success. DeLaSalle’s philosophy, “we accept students as they come to us and we work with them where they are,” is put into practice through personalized education, holistic services, and experiential learning of workforce skills.
August: Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts
The Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts (Charter Arts) serves the community of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a historic seat for U.S. industry and former home to Bethlehem Steel. Its mission is to provide “a unique environment that fosters a creative academic approach to learning and a development of talent in the arts.” In addition to a rigorous academic course load, Charter Arts currently offers six artistic majors—dance, figure skating, instrumental music, theater, visual art, and vocal music—and will add literary arts in the 2015-16 school year.
July: Harding Fine Arts Academy
Oklahoma City, OK
Harding Fine Arts Academy (HFAA) is a college preparatory high school in Oklahoma City that focuses on the integration of arts and academics. Community leaders and fine arts advocates founded HFAA with the mission “to provide an arts-enriched learning environment merging aesthetic and academic content to enhance student achievement and to encourage arts-related careers and lifelong arts appreciation.” Students take classes in required academic subjects, including mathematics, English, science, and social studies, and can also select up to three elective classes in dance, music, theatre, or visual arts programs. Principal Barry Schmelzenbach said, “We’re very elective heavy for a school our size, which means that our students get a wide range of opportunities to take classes that they wouldn’t be able to in a traditional public school setting.”
June: Alaska Native Cultural Charter School
The Alaska Native Cultural Charter School (ANCCS) was created to offer a holistic approach that combines Alaska Native language, culture, history, and traditional practices into an inquiry- and standards-based educational program for the students and families of Anchorage, Alaska. As a public school, ANCCS welcomes and serves all students who apply regardless of ethnicity, race, language or gender, and Alaska Native values provide a framework to develop students’ academic achievement and social/ emotional growth. ANCCS was the first Title I charter school in the state of Alaska, serving a nearly 100 percent economically disadvantaged and more than 50 percent Alaska Native student body.
May: Haas Hall Academy
Haas Hall Academy, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, offers an accelerated learning model for scholars seeking a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. Its mission is “to provide an aggressive alternative to the traditional learning environment for scholars with high intensity of purpose, enabling them to succeed at the nation’s prestigious universities and to become pillars of their communities.” The school is structured like a university and this captures the college-centric atmosphere of its city, which is home to the University of Arkansas. Its semester-based, block-scheduled courses mean that one instructional day at Haas Hall Academy is equivalent to about two traditional school days.
April: Namaste Charter School
Namaste Charter School was founded on the belief that healthy children are better learners. Its vision—to change the trajectory of underserved children’s lives—is enacted through holistic education for the children of Chicago’s South Side. Namaste’s daily health and wellness programs include 60 minutes of physical education and 20 minutes of recess, a ten-minute “Morning Movement” stretching and exercise routine set to music, and healthy breakfasts and lunches. Additionally, a peaceful school culture, collaborative practice, and respect of other languages and cultures are among the school’s core values. The public charter school operates on an extended school day and year, offers half of its classes as bilingual education (English and Spanish), and provides support for families through its Parent Center, so that teachers, staff, parents, and neighborhood leaders can work together to provide an exceptional academic environment.
March: Crossroads Academy of Kansas City
Kansas City, MO
Crossroads Academy of Kansas City (CAKC) strives to be the premier urban school serving Kansas City’s youth and a destination for other educators seeking inspiration and best practices. Based on three pillars— high expectations, 21st Century learning, and community engagement— Crossroads Academy aims to graduate students who pursue their dreams relentlessly and have a positive impact on their family, their community, and the world. Crossroads Academy students utilize their downtown location by walking to cultural amenities like the Barney Allis Plaza for recess, Kansas City Central Library for resources, and the Folly Theater for field trips.
February: February: Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women
The Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women (BLSYW) was founded on a simple goal: to give public school students the same quality education and opportunities as their peers in private schools. The school’s all-girls environment prepares the young women of Baltimore city for success in college and life through a strong school culture and innovative teaching practice.
January: Thurgood Marshall Academy
Thurgood Marshall Academy (TMA) Public Charter was founded by law students and attorneys at Georgetown University Law Center’s DC Street Law clinic who wanted to offer underserved students more academic and social development opportunities. The school’s mission is to prepare students to succeed in college and to actively engage in our democratic society. Its challenging academic curriculum is infused with the theme of law and justice. The foundational legal skills—argumentation, negotiation, critical thinking, research, and advocacy—will prepare students for success in any career.