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The Building Equity Initiative helps public charter schools overcome barriers to better serve students
This is one in an ongoing series of brief conversations with education innovators led by Greg Richmond, founder and former CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. His “Three Questions For” series also appears on Medium. Today’s edition: three minutes with Anand Kesavan, chief executive officer of the Equitable Facilities Fund, a nonprofit social-impact fund that offers low-cost, long-term facility financing for high-quality charter schools.
Equitable Facilities Fund Announces First Verified Social Bonds for Education in the US
$204 million in verified Social Bonds proceeds will help finance public charter schools that are providing transformative educational opportunities for students, especially in low-income and under-resourced communities.
$204 million in verified Social Bonds proceeds will help finance public charter schools that are providing transformative educational opportunities for students, especially in low-income and under-resourced communities.
A $145 million bond financing from Equitable Facilities Financing’s (EFF)“Equitable School Revolving Fund” went to market on August 12ᵗʰ. The bonds have been given a “social” designation from Kestrel Verifiers. Social bonds are a burgeoning area in the municipal market, as issuers and investors alike become more aware of the interest from a growing investor class that wants a signifier of how municipal bond proceeds are being spent.
Investing in 'social' bonds is becoming more commonplace in municipals. Anand Kesavan, CEO of Equitable Facilities Fund, talks about its drive to help charter schools' funding, and its social, racial and equitable diversity of investments. Lynne Funk, Bond Buyer Innovation Editor hosts.
A $141 million deal from Equitable Facilities Fund, a relatively new startup whose mission is “to make it easier, faster and less expensive for charter schools to put down roots in sustainable facilities,” will price Wednesday amid coronavirus threats and investor caution on charter school credit.
EFF is proud to announce the closing of loans to two of Kansas City’s highest-performing public schools: Scuola Vita Nuova (SVN) and Brookside Charter School. SVN and Brookside will use $8.8 million and $5.6 million, respectively, to refinance existing debt and finance new facilities that will support high-quality education options for families in Kansas City. The 30-year, fixed-rate loans will save the two schools approximately $4 million in interest payments, providing more money to support students and teachers. We are grateful for our exceptional funders, investors, and especially SchoolSmartKC and the entire Kansas City community for making these high-impact partnerships possible.
Fueled by our mission to provide equitable access to low-cost financing for all great public charter schools, EFF financed these loans amidst one of the most tumultuous times in memory for schools and the capital markets.
We are especially proud of the **commitment to equity **at these two schools that provide a high-quality free, public education to predominantly Black and Hispanic students from low-income neighborhoods. SVN was recognized as the 2019 Charter School of the Year in Missouri and Brookside’s Superintendent, Roger Offield, was recognized as 2019 Charter School Leader of the Year in Missouri. EFF is humbled to play a small part in both schools' success.
You can read more on EFF's partnership with schools here.
EFF is proud to announce the closing of a $25.6 million loan to Not Your Ordinary School (NYOS) in Austin, TX. This 30-year, fixed-rate loan will **finance the construction of a state-of-the-art facility **that will catalyze NYOS's growth and provide a high-quality education option for more Austin families. The loan will save the school approximately $9 million, providing additional resources to support students, teachers, and leaders. We are grateful for our exceptional funders, investors, and the entire NYOS community for making this high-impact partnership possible.
Founded in 1998, NYOS serves 1,063 students in grades PK-12 and will nearly double in size over the coming years. The school’s culture, commitment to families, and diverse-by-design model have contributed to a reputation as one of Texas’s best public charter schools. NYOS consistently outperforms the state and its sending district on Math, ELA and SAT/ACT tests and has earned distinction as one of the nation's best high schools from US News and World Report. You can read more on EFF's partnership with NYOS here.
I hope that you and your loved ones are staying well during this time of uncertainty. Like all of you, we’ve been grappling with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on our friends and families, the public education sector, and the global community.
In the midst of these challenging times,I am grateful to share two things with you:
1. Exemplary Leadership
I am humbled and inspired by the extraordinary work schools across the country are doing as they continue to educate students and provide essential services to communities.
2. Recent High-Impact Loan Closings _
Like our school partners, EFF is dedicated to tackling the challenges of these unprecedented times. We continue to focus on delivering value and putting money back in the classroom where it belongs. Our collaborative, problem-solving approach culminated in the closing of two low-cost, long-term, fixed-rate facility loans over the last month to KIPP New Jersey in Newark and Renaissance Arts Academy in Los Angeles.
Founded in 2002, KIPP New Jersey has grown to serve over 4,700 K-12 students, 90% of whom are economically disadvantaged. The school provides a high-quality education option to families in Newark, and its students outperform their wealthier peers throughout the state. EFF provided a $21.5 million loan to finance the acquisition and renovation of a former Newark Public School building. The 30-year, fixed-rate loan will save the school $2.4 million.
Renaissance Arts Academy serves 540 students in grades TK-12, 65% of whom come from low-income families in Los Angeles. RenArts has a 15-year history of exceptional student outcomes, including top 10% statewide test scores. EFF provided a $16.1 million loan to finance the acquisition of the school that RenArts previously leased. In addition to financing a permanent home, the 30-year, fixed-rate loan will save the school $3.5 million.
EFF remains committed as ever to its mission to provide equitable financing for high-quality public charter schools. We are proud to partner with schools like KIPP New Jersey and Renaissance Arts Academy that offer excellent education options for all students.
At EFF, we believe all great public charter schools deserve equitable access to low-cost, long-term facility financing. I’m reaching out today with a few pieces of exciting news as we continue along our journey to promote high quality education options for all students.
High-Impact Loan Closing: Caliber Public Schools
We're very pleased to announce the closing of a $14.3M loan to Caliber Public Schools. Founded in 2014, Caliber’s Richmond and Vallejo campuses have established reputations as two of the region’s best schools. Their mission to “shift the experiences, expectations and outcomes for students in historically underserved communities” deeply resonates with our work at EFF. We’re proud to finance the acquisition of a permanent home for Caliber’s ChangeMakers Academy campus in Vallejo.
Caliber was able to take advantage of historically low, long-term rates and EFF’s philanthropy- enhanced loan program to put money back in the classroom where it belongs. Congratulations to Caliber and keep up the excellent work!
In 2016 we launched the Building Equity Initiative, an unprecedented effort to make it easier and more affordable for public charter schools to find, secure and renovate facilities. The goal is to alleviate the time and energy educators spend finding and securing buildings so more resources can go directly to students and teachers.
At Equitable Facilities Fund (EFF), we’re committed to empowering high-performing charter schools by providing low-cost, long-term facility financing. Today, I’m pleased to announce the recent closing of a 30-year, fixed-rate loan to Alliance College-Ready Public Schools. Our $27M partnership will save the high-performing school network more than $5M over the life of the loan.
Alliance operates 25 middle and high schools that educate nearly 13,000 students in Los Angeles’ most underserved communities, and ninety-five percent of the network’s graduates have been accepted to college.
“As we assessed options to consolidate a number of out-standing existing maturities, EFF provided an opportunity for lower transaction costs and reduced borrowing rates, which will provide our schools with greater resources for scholars and staff,” said David Lauck, Alliance’s Chief Business Officer, adding: “It has also been a great opportunity to work with a genuine thought partner who is committed to improving outcomes in our schools and communities."
EFF is proud to partner with Alliance and other schools that are creating opportunity for students across the country.
At Equitable Facilities Fund (EFF), we’ve set out to transform the lending landscape by making it easier and less expensive for high-performing charter schools to access low-cost, long-term facility financing.** Today, we are pleased to announce the closing of a loan to Itineris Early College High School in West Jordan, Utah! To date, EFF has committed over $164 million to excellent schools across the country.**
Founded in 2004, Itineris serves a diverse population of 372 students in grades 10 to 12. The school prioritizes STEM education and post-secondary success by offering a curriculum that enables students to earn up to two years of college credit. Itineris graduates have outperformed state and national ACT composite averages every year since 2005-06, and the high school is consistently recognized as one of the best in Utah.
About the EFF & Itineris Partnership
EFF’s team provided Itineris with a 30-year, fixed-rate loan to refinance bonds used to construct a new, permanent school facility. Our unwavering commitment to deliver value to schools will save Itineris an estimated $1.9 million over the life of the loan, re-directing valuable resources to the school's high-impact classrooms.
We are proud to partner with schools across America, like Itineris, that are providing opportunities for students to access a high-quality education. EFF provides financing for a variety of project types to schools that have track records of academic and operational success. You can learn more about our fund and mission by visiting www.eqfund.org (for schools and advocates) or www.esrfinvestors.org (for investors).
A $120 million deal from a start up, Equitable Facilities Fund, whose mission is “to make it easier, faster and less expensive for charter schools to put down roots in sustainable facilities,” will price Thursday amid a busy new-issue week.
Non-profit is floating first bond for revolving loan fund. The loans would cut reliance on high-yield muni-bond market.
The A-Rated, Nonprofit Lending Fund Provides Long-Term, Low-Cost Facilities Financing to High-Quality Public Charter Schools. The Issuance Will Allow More Resources to Directly Reach 30,000 Students.
Equitable Facilities Fund (EFF) will issue $100 million in A-rated tax-exempt bonds to further its mission of supporting an equitable, high-quality public education for all students by providing financing to excellent public charter schools to build, grow and renovate facilities.
Through EFF’s Preliminary Official Statement, the nonprofit lender has laid out plans that will support 30,000 public charter school students by providing affordable funds for their schools’ buildings, equipment and other capital projects, thus directing more resources into the classroom and helping students realize academic success and a lifetime of opportunity.
EFF is supported by the Walton Family Foundation’s Building Equity Initiative(BEI), an unprecedented effort to make it easier and more affordable for public charter schools to access equitable, affordable facilities funding.
“This next step for the Building Equity Initiative will help public charter schools more easily and affordably access facilities and free up resources to go where they belong, with teachers and students,” said Walton Family Foundation board member Alice Walton.
Since launching in 2018, EFF has committed more than $158 million in low-interest loans supporting 11 public charter facilities projects across seven states. To date, these loans have saved public charter schools and networks over $15 million and allowed them to better serve more than 30,000 total students.
EFF pools public charter school loans in an innovative manner to provide long-term, fixed-rate loans with terms that public charter schools could not otherwise secure. Adapting a revolving loan fund model that has successfully supported more than $100 billion in clean water projects for three decades, EFF is the first pooled fund of its kind for public charter schools. The fund’s team of finance and public charter school experts have formulated a best-in-class loan underwriting and monitoring system and plan to raise additional capital for a target near-term fund size of $600 million to benefit high-quality public education.
"Every high-quality public school deserves equitable, permanent financing,” said EFF Founder and CEO Anand Kesavan. “This is what we're striving to provide at EFF—with a proven approach that has the potential to positively impact thousands of students. That's the beauty of it. We're combining traditional investment structures and cutting-edge philanthropy and putting it all to work against educational inequity."
Unlike district schools, which typically operate out of buildings acquired and financed from credit founded on a tax base, public charter schools must fund facilities costs from their operating budgets. This can lead to uneven distribution of resources for public school students attending public charter schools, where valuable resources are directed away from classroom instruction in order to pay for the school facility. EFF, by providing credit enhancement and low-cost permanent capital, aims to ensure public charter schools can direct more resources to helping students realize meaningful academic and life outcomes.
“Equitable Facilities Fund has been an incredible partner for us,” said Jeremy Chiappetta, CEO of Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy (BVP), which received a $16 million loan from the EFF to finance the acquisition of a previously leased high school facility for its 1,959 K-12 students in northeast Rhode Island. The loan will save BVP, one of the highest-performing school networks in Rhode Island, over $60,000 annually throughout its 30-year term.
“As a relatively young and growing organization, our ability to access facilities funding was limited. The EFF team, however, not only provided us with very favorable financing terms, but also provided sage strategic advice and counsel. As a result of this project, we are able to reallocate hundreds of thousands of dollars into classrooms.”
Two non-profit lending funds launched by the Building Equity Initiative have made more than $40 million in new loans for public charter school facilities. The low-cost loans, distributed through the Charter Fund and Facilities Investment Fund, have to date allowed four schools across the country to find, secure and renovate permanent facilities. As a result of these loans, these four schools will save hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next 30 years and serve more than 3,500 students collectively.
“More schools now have access to permanent, quality facilities and resources once spent on facilities can now go back to classrooms, to teachers and back where our resources should be – with students,” said Alice Walton.
The Charter Fund (CIF) is a national non-profit social impact fund created to help high-performing charter schools across the country maximize resources for students. The CIF provides long-term, fixed-rate loans—similar to a home mortgage—for up to 100 percent loan-to-value financing, with no reserve fund requirements and millions of dollars saved over the life of a loan. The CIF is the first pooled fund of its kind for public charter schools, utilizing philanthropy and excellent credit standards to develop a product with immense value for schools and fund investors alike.
Recent projects include:
"CIF's successful launch affirmed our founding hypothesis: schools are eager to spend less on facilities and more on children,” said CIF Founder and CEO Anand Kesavan. “Our first two loans to Soulsville and Village Tech saved the schools over $5 million—dollars right back into high-performing classrooms. Long-term, low-cost, high impact. That’s our mission. We look forward to helping dozens more schools save in the coming years. It's been rewarding and humbling to work alongside the Walton Family Foundation, high-performing school leaders and their school communities as we grow scalable, efficient capital markets to work toward educational equity."
Created in collaboration with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and managed by Civic Builders, the Facilities Investment Fund (FIF) is a groundbreaking $100 million loan fund that is committed to improving facilities financing for high-performing charter schools and networks across the country. The program provides financing for new school construction or renovations to existing buildings with loans up to $20 million for up to 90 percent loan-to-value financing. The interest rate is fixed for the duration of the five-year loan period, and the loans feature 25-year amortization, no prepayment penalty, and up to 24 months of interest-only during construction.
Recent projects include:
"For 17 years, Civic Builders has been committed to our mission of ensuring that real estate will never be a barrier to an excellent education,” said Civic Builders CEO David Umansky. “The Facilities Investment Fund represents a critical step toward improving access to affordable facilities financing for high-performing charter schools nationwide. We are proud to partner with the Walton Family Foundation and Bank of America Merrill Lynch to bring this innovative product to the facilities lending landscape."
Accessing facilities that adequately serve the needs of their public school students and educators remains a significant barrier for public charter schools across the country. The CIF and FIF aim to incentivize new and additional capital to charter school facility projects at cost-effective interest rates. The Building Equity Initiative marks the first time philanthropists have tried to catalyze system-wide improvements in how high-performing public charter schools access facilities financing. Through the Building Equity Initiative, there is now a large network of real estate experts, lenders, financiers, technical assistance providers and additional resources available to help public charter schools finance and secure facilities.
About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. The children and grandchildren of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. In 2017, the foundation awarded more than $535 million in grants in support of these initiatives. To learn more, visit waltonfamilyfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
At Charter Impact Fund (CIF), we’ve set out to transform the lending landscape by making it easier and less expensive for charter school leaders to access low-cost, long-term facility financing. Today, we are happy to announce the closing of our first loan to The Soulsville Charter School (TSCS) in Memphis, Tennessee!
About the School
About the CIF & Soulsville Parnership
We are proud to partner with high impact charter schools like Soulsville and support critical work undertaken in South Memphis and cities across the country. Closing this loan brings us one step closer to the day when all students will have equitable access to quality schools and all schools have access to low-cost facility financing.
If you or someone you know may need low-cost, long-term, fixed rate financing for their charter school, please let us know.
CEO, Charter Impact Fund
A foundation with a philanthropic vision is combining forces with impact investors to provide charter schools with alternative low-cost financing options for building and renovating schools.
The Walton Family Foundation, based in Bentonville, Ark., provided seed funding to create two “innovative” educational facility financing vehicles that it said would provide charter schools with new longand short-term financing choices, in part because some schools don’t have access to public financing.
With $200 million from the foundation to start up, the Charter Impact Fund will be a revolving-loan-type fund offering long-term, fixed-rate loans to high-performing charter schools for up to 100% of project costs.
Click the following link to read the full article-
The Walton Family Foundation today announced the creation of the Charter Impact Fund and Facilities Investment Fund. The two distinct non-profit funds are supported through the foundation’s Building Equity Initiative, an unprecedented effort to make it easier and more affordable for public charter schools to find, secure and renovate facilities. The Charter Impact Fund and Facilities Investment Fund will provide quicker access to long- and short-term financing, respectively.
“Big challenges require bold solutions,” said Alice Walton, Walton Family Foundation Board Member. “This effort will allow resources that were spent on facilities to be directed back into the classrooms, back to the teachers and back to where it should be—with the students.”
Freedom Preparatory Academy Charter Schools—whose entire inaugural graduating class of 2017 was accepted to four-year colleges and universities, in a neighborhood where only 10 percent of residents earn college degrees—are growing to meet the need for quality education options for children in their Memphis, Tennessee community. When Freedom Prep was ready to open its second elementary school, the only option was to start in a temporary facility, even though it meant moving a year later. “Charter schools deserve equal and more seamless access to facilities resources so that we can meet the need in our neighborhoods,” says Charlise Clark Gwin, Chief Financial and Operations Officer, Freedom Prep.
Currently, public charter schools spend, on average, 15 percent of all funding on facility or facility-related costs, a figure that does not include untold staffing hours and resources spent addressing these issues. Public financing is extremely limited: Less than half of all states that allow charter schools provide them with any per-pupil facilities allowance, and opportunities to share space with district schools are rare. According to research from the Charter School Facilities Initiative, nearly one in five public charter schools have delayed opening by a year or more due to issues finding and securing facilities. Nationwide, more than $3.6 billion is spent annually on public charter school facilities—resources that could be directed to support teaching and learning.
The Charter Impact Fund, a new, non-profit organization, will launch with $200 million in seed funding and provide long-term, fixed-rate loans—similar to a home mortgage—to high-performing charter schools anywhere in the country for up to 100 percent of project costs. The CIF provides charter schools with access to lower transaction costs and quicker loan execution —allowing each school to save several million dollars over the loan term. Adapting a revolving-loan fund model that has successfully supported clean water projects and affordable housing, the CIF is the first pooled fund of its kind for public charter schools, providing permanent, credit-enhanced loans at low cost.
“At Charter Impact Fund, we believe that the schools making the biggest impact for students should be empowered to grow. Borrowing through CIF realizes permanent savings for charter schools that they can put back into the classroom and serve even more families in their community,” said Anand Kesavan, CEO of the Charter Impact Fund. “We know the need because we’ve led and worked with charter schools, and we understand how to be a long-term partner for the school's success.”
Created in collaboration with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and managed by Civic Builders, the $100 million Facilities Investment Fund will offer public charter schools five-year fixed-rate loans for up to 90 percent of project costs for new construction or facility renovation. FIF loans are the only short-term loans available to public charter schools that meet three significant criteria: up to $20 million, low-fixed interest rates and high-percentage of project costs. The FIF is an innovative private-philanthropic partnership, combining commercial and foundation capital to drive down costs associated with finding and securing facilities.
“Making a significant impact in communities is an important consideration for projects we finance,” said Maria Barry, Community Development Banking national executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “The Facilities Investment Fund will build on Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s work to provide more children access to high-quality public charter schools. Since 2000, BoAML charter school financing has exceeded $1 billion and created educational opportunities for more than 25,000 students at over 80 schools.”
“The charter school movement’s urgent challenge with facilities finance requires these kinds of innovative initiatives and public-private partnerships,” said Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. “Lack of access to facilities finance is among the biggest barriers to opening or expanding more high-quality charter schools in most communities across the country.”
The Building Equity Initiative marks the first time philanthropists have tried to catalyze system-wide improvements in how high-performing public charter schools access facilities financing.
In developing the CIF and FIF, the goal is to incentivize new and additional capital to public charter school facility projects at cost-effective interest rates. Through the Building Equity Initiative, there is now a large network of real estate experts, lenders, financiers, technical assistance providers and more resources available to help public charter schools when financing and securing facilities.
About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. The children and grandchildren of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. In 2016, the foundation awarded more than $454 million in grants in support of these initiatives. To learn more, visit waltonfamilyfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.