Public/Private School Design & Replication

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Real Estate Support

Bay Area Charter Schools Facility Fund

Client: Charles & Helen Schwab Foundation

“CA Group is an ideal partner for complicated work in education reform and philanthropy. They have deep expertise in charter school operations, real estate finance and development, and grant-making. They were very organized, effective and reliable in managing this project and the wide variety of actors involved. They were extremely flexible and responsive to our needs in re-scoping and right-sizing the project team and work plan as the project developed and changed over time. Two significant solutions to the charter facility problem resulted from this effort, each with multiple funders contributing, and none of that would have been possible without the leadership and support of Cat Alexander and CA Group.” -Kristi Kimball, Executive Director, Charles & Helen Schwab Foundation

The Challenge

The Charles & Helen Schwab Foundation believes that every student should have the opportunity to lead a happy and productive life, and that a quality education is the key to that future fulfillment. Unfortunately, not all students in California have access to a high quality school in their community. While the foundation recognized that there were proven charter school organizations in California ready, willing, and able to fill that gap, access to adequate and affordable facilities was limiting their expansion. The Schwab Foundation engaged CA Group to undertake a data-driven investigation into the current state of facilities access for charter schools in California, with the goal of clearly defining the problem and developing potential solutions.

Our Solution

CA Group conducted a landscape analysis, gathering data and conducting informational interviews/focus groups with charter school operators, lenders, developers, policy makers, and others to paint a clear picture in data of the problems facing charter schools in accessing suitable facilities.

Problems in hand, CA Group dove into researching successful examples in comparable markets around the country, collaborating with strategic thought partners to develop a concept paper focused on potential public policy and private capital solutions. While this project was centered on the California market, CA Group interviewed a variety of thought partners from around the country to ensure that the project benefited from and contributed to similar conversations currently happening in other markets and at the national level.

Outcomes

  • A concept paper succinctly describing the problems California charter schools have accessing affordable facilities and delineating a set of viable private and public solutions that foundations can pursue to alleviate these problems.
  • A data-rich Bay Area market study detailing the growth goals for the highest performing charter schools in the region and how those goals compare to: a) the surplus property in each local district; and b) the identification of affordable private facilities. (Authored by the California Charter Schools Association and created in partnership with the Pacific Charter School Development.)
  • The development of a Bay Area Charter School Facility Fund, to be seeded in the summer of 2015.

Collaborators

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; California Charter Schools Association; Chamberlin Family Foundation; Charter School Growth Fund; Doris & Donald Fisher Fund; Emerson Collective; New Schools Venture Fund; Rogers Family Foundation; Schwab Foundation; Silicon Schools Fund; Sobrato Foundation; Startup Education; Walton Family Foundation

CA Group Team Members & Partners

  • Cat Alexander
  • Jamie Prijatel
  • Kirsten McKone
  • Jim Ford (Ford Research & Solutions)
  • David Esselman (Great Gains)
  • California Charter Schools Association
  • Pacific Charter School Development
  • Silicon Schools Fund