Public Charter Startup Grants

Providing grants to educators to develop and launch new schools

The Walton Family Foundation has supported the creation and growth of diverse, high-quality charter schools since 1997 as part of our effort to give all families — especially those with the greatest needs — the opportunity to choose the best options for their children. In our Public Charter Startup Grant Program, we focus on supporting high-quality and high-potential charter schools serving low-income children in our target geographies. 

The foundation has invested more than $407 million to grow high-quality charter schools since 1997.

Going forward, the Walton Family Foundation is committed to helping high-performing charter management organizations expand and replicate what works. It is also committed to investing more in small, independent operators who have new ideas about how to provide high-quality educational options to high-needs students. We believe entrepreneurs with new ideas can innovate, answer communities’ demands, and create great schools that meet each child’s unique needs.

Paths to Funding Your School Startup

To receive Walton Family Foundation Public Charter Startup Grant funding, an applicant may follow one of two paths:

1. Apply to one of our partners — The foundation partners with local and national organizations to support qualified school operator affiliates. Startup support may be available to qualified affiliates of the following partners. If you are affiliated with one of the following, please reach out to your appropriate relationship manager at one of these partner organizations.

  • Charter School Growth Fund
  • The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP)
  • Building Excellent Schools 
  • New Schools Venture Fund
  • Educate 78 (Oakland only)
  • Silicon Schools (Oakland only)
  • Education Forward (Washington, D.C. only)

2. Apply directly to the Walton Family Foundation. We seek to fund high-quality and high-potential operators with plans to open new public schools in our target geographies. These schools will strive to transform learning and significantly improve academic outcomes for K-12 students, particularly those from traditionally underserved communities.  

2018 Grant Program and Timeline:

Traditional startup grants vary depending on funding needs and network size and range from $100,000 to $325,000. Funding can be used to support the startup and launch costs associated with opening a new school. Learn more about our funding levels.

We are currently accepting inquiries from operators planning to open a school in a target geography in fall 2018 or 2019.    

Selection Process:

1.  Complete online eligibility form
2.  Receive invitation from the Walton Family Foundation to apply for funding in spring 2018 
3.  Complete application and foundation interview 

Funding decisions will be made in summer 2018.

Qualifying for the Public Charter Startup Grant program (Option 2 above)

Initial qualifying criteria for applicants: 

  • The school must demonstrate strong potential for delivering excellent academic results for K-12 students, as measured by standardized achievement tests.
  • The school seeks to serve a significant percentage of students from low-income families.
  • The school must NOT represent a for-profit entity. 
  • The school must plan on opening in fall of 2018 or 2019 to be eligible for startup funding in 2018. Eligible schools must currently be authorized or expect to be authorized in 2018. 
  • The school is in “startup” mode, which is the period that begins 18 months before opening and ends at the culmination of the school's first year of operations.   
  • The school must draw a majority of its students from one of the foundation’s targeted districts (see below).

If you are a current grantee, you must be up-to-date on all of our reporting requirements to apply. 

Targeted districts for Public Charter School Grants:

The foundation’s strategy is to focus grants on a limited number of districts to make significant changes in those locations. Only public charter schools drawing a majority of their students from the following districts may apply:

  • Arkansas: Any District
  • California: Los Angeles Unified School District [Map of specific boundaries]; Oakland Unified School District
  • Colorado: Denver Public Schools
  • Georgia: Atlanta Public Schools
  • Indiana: Indianapolis Public Schools
  • Louisiana: Orleans Parish School Board
  • Massachusetts: Boston Public Schools
  • New Jersey: Camden City School District
  • New York: New York City
  • Oklahoma: Any District
  • Tennessee: Shelby County Schools
  • Texas: Houston Independent School District; San Antonio Metro Area
  • Washington, D.C.: District of Columbia Public Schools

Apply Now:

If you believe you meet the initial qualifying criteria, please complete the online eligibility questionnaire.