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Charter School Growth Fund Invests in the Futures of Many by Supporting High-Quality Charters

January 17, 2018

When a school creates opportunities for young people to thrive and succeed in college and life, many want to see more students have access to similar opportunities. The Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF) is a national nonprofit that helps to increase the impact of the country’s best public charter schools. Since 2005, CSGF has supported over 840 schools that are creating such opportunities for more than 360,000 students across 26 states. More than 90% of the students who attend CSGF-supported schools are students of color and over 80% are students from low-income families.

Nearly two-thirds of the charter networks that the organization has supported ran just one or two schools when they received their first growth investment from CSGF. Many of them now operate five or more schools and some serve more than 10,000 students. For example, the high-performing Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago now serves more than 12,500 students.

With CSGF support, Noble was able to grow to serve students like Luriel Ocampo from the northwest side of Chicago.

Luriel Ocampo, Community Organizer, The Noble Network of Charter Schools

Luriel was not a strong student in middle school and says he was “smart, but never motivated.” That changed when Noble founder and superintendent Michael Milkie introduced him to the Noble model during a school visit. Michael’s remarks about building a safe community of scholars who would attend and thrive in college resonated.

“That talk opened my eyes to the potential of Noble and to my own potential,” Luriel says. “That was the first time the idea of college even entered my brain.”

Luriel became a member of the founding class of Noble’s Pritzker College Preparatory campus, which opened with help from CSGF in 2006. Pritzker College Prep is one of the best public high schools in Chicago.

Pritzker College Prep, The Noble Network of Charter Schools

At Noble, the high expectations and supportive environment pushed Luriel to demand more of himself.

He achieved something no one else in his family had before: he became the first to graduate from a four-year college – the prestigious Tufts University in Boston. Today, he has a job he loves as a community organizer at the place that gave him the confidence and drive to be successful: The Noble Network of Charter Schools.

“It’s a privilege to work at Noble and help students in the same way that Noble helped me,” says Luriel.

As a community organizer, Luriel talks to hundreds of students and families about his educational experience at Noble and the life-changing nature of the schools. He also helps parents advocate for what’s best for their children in Chicago and across the state.

Noble now has 18 campuses. Without support from CSGF, it is unlikely that Noble would have been able to grow to its current size as quickly as it did. Michael says that CSGF has been “one of Noble’s longest and most steadfast partners over the past 19 years” and that the organization opened 14 campuses opened with “crucial start-up support from CSGF.”

He adds that CSGF isn’t merely a funder and that its support “goes beyond providing funds to open more schools.” CSGF has long-standing relationships with the charter networks it supports (nearly 100 in total) and provides them with custom supports in areas such as finance, operations, facilities, and talent. The organization also coordinates meaningful opportunities for education leaders to learn from one another and from other leaders who have successfully scaled their organizations.

CSGF CEO Kevin Hall says, "CSGF is honored to help our country’s best public charter schools grow. Together, these schools are putting more than 360,000 students on the path to college and career success."

Seeds of Opportunity is a storytelling series recognizing 30 partners the Walton Family Foundation has worked with over the years to build better schools, protect our environment and improve quality of life in our home region through culture, recreation and the arts. They are people and organizations who – through creativity, imagination and urgency – are advancing opportunity for people and communities at home and around the world.
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