Charter Schools Program

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What is the Charter Schools Program?

The federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) provides financial assistance for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of charter schools and the replication of high quality charter schools. Federal funds are also available to share information about promising practices, help charter schools finance facilities, and invest in national initiatives that support charter schools.

As a part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), CSP is designed to improve the public education system through innovative ideas and practices that enable all students to thrive in a global economy. The program is charged with expanding opportunities for children with disabilities, English learners, and other traditionally underserved students to attend charter schools and meet challenging state academic standards.

See The Federal Charter School Program 2021 Annual Report for more on the effectiveness on the program.

Why does the Charter Schools Program matter? 

Public charter schools continue to grow and deliver outstanding educational options to students nationwide, especially low-income students. The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University found that charter schools located in our nation’s largest urban districts are showing significant performance improvements for the most disadvantaged students.

Currently, two million U.S. parents would like to send their child to a charter school but can’t because of either a lack of school options or too few seats available at open schools. Starting a new high-quality school takes considerable time, planning, and resources, and CSP funds are critical to this process.

What is included in the Charter Schools Program?

The Charter Schools Program (CSP) includes multiple competitions for funds to address the different needs of the charter school community. See the program pages for each competition for more information and to see the most recent grantees:

Where does Charter Schools Program funding go?

In FY20, the Charter Schools Program was funded at $440 million. That funding is split between five programs.

  • 65% of funding is in the form of grants state entities to support high-quality charter schools. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis to state entities that in turn make subgrants to charter schools.
  • 18% of funding is for charter school replication and expansion. Grants are awarded on
    a competitive basis to nonprofit charter management organizations (CMOs) that have demonstrated success, including improved academic achievement.
  • 12.5% of funding is used for Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities and State Facilities Incentive Grants. Credit Enhancement grants are awarded on a competitive basis to community development financial institutions and public entities that help charter schools finance facilities. State Facilities Incentive Grants give matching funds to states that
    help charter schools pay for facilities.
  • 4.5% of funds are used for National Dissemination Grants. These competitive grants are for projects of national significance to improve charter school quality.

Charter Schools Program in Action - Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women