Breakthrough Charter Schools receives $2 million investment from national funder | Community Spirit
The Charter School Growth Fund , a national nonprofit venture capital fund that invests in the nation‘s highest performing charter school operators to dramatically expand their impact on underserved students, will invest $2 million in Breakthrough Charter Schools.
The pledge, a combination of low-interest loans and grants to be fulfilled over four years, will help Breakthrough open new charter schools in Cleveland.
Breakthrough Charter Schools is a non-profit charter management organization, formed in July 2010. Currently, the organization consists of four of Cleveland’s highest performing charter schools -- Citizens Academy, Entrepreneurship Preparatory School, The Intergenerational School, and Village Preparatory School. Breakthrough serves 1,100 mostly minority and low-income kindergarten through eighth-grade students. Each school is rated excellent or effective by the Ohio Department of Education. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District sponsors three of the four schools.
The funding will help Breakthrough open a middle school, Citizens Leadership Academy, a kindergarten through eighth-grade school, Near West Intergenerational School, in August 2011, and two more schools in August 2012.
“This is a tremendous vote of confidence for Cleveland, our organization, and our growing partnership with the district,” said Alan Rosskamm, CEO of Breakthrough. Rosskamm specifically cited the cooperative environment created by the Cleveland school district as critical to the Charter School Growth Fund’s decision. In addition to sponsoring a number of charter schools, the district recently unveiled a plan to lease unused district facilities to high-performing charters. “We have a progressive district CEO in Dr. Sanders and a school board that understands the urgent need to replicate Cleveland’s most successful schools, be they district or charter.”
The Charter School Growth Fund was especially impressed by three unique, high-performing charter schools joining forces to serve more students. “In Breakthrough, we see a tremendous opportunity for a new collaborative model to replicate the highest performing urban charter schools,” said Kevin Hall, CEO of The Charter School Growth Fund.
The Charter School Growth Fund is widely viewed as one of the country’s leading funders of high-performing charter schools. “They are one the most rigorous and discerning investors in this sector,” said Peter C. Groff, CEO of the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools in Washington, D.C. “I can hardly think of a greater national endorsement of the work Breakthrough is doing for Cleveland’s children,” Groff said.
“It is wonderful to have a major national funder recognize the importance of our work here in Cleveland,” said John Zitzner, founder of Entrepreneurship Preparatory School and Village Preparatory School.
Zitzner cautioned that Ohio’s per pupil public funding gap for charter school children means that Breakthrough still faces a fundraising challenge.
“We need to raise a lot more money to achieve our vision of serving many more children in Cleveland, but this is a great start.”
The Charter School Growth Fund receives funding from some of the country’s leading philanthropists and foundations, including the Walton Family Foundation, the Doris and Donald Fisher Fund, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Reed Hastings (founder of Netflix, Inc.) and others who are interested in providing high-quality public school options for all children, particularly those in underserved neighborhoods. They provide expansion funding to some of the highest performing charter school organizations across the country, including KIPP, Aspire in California, and Uncommon Schools in New York and Newark. Since its inception in 2005, the fund has only made awards to 6% of its applicants. This is the first time the group has invested in Ohio.