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The Equitable School Revolving Fund (ESRF) was established to tackle the education funding gap and reduce costs for schools across the US by bringing together private philanthropic grant funding and bond proceeds.
ESRF was founded in 2017 with the belief that all students deserve equal access to affordable schools and classrooms. It launched its first $200 million philanthropic investment with a goal to issue $1 billion of loans to high-performing charter school projects that serve predominantly low-income communities and underserved students.
With its fourth bond issuance in August 2022, ESRF has achieved that goal. The initial funding round of $200 million combined with approximately $800 million in bonds has brought the impact of the loan fund up to approximately $1 billion in loans.
"ESRF is thrilled to receive Environmental Finance's 'Impact project/investment of the year - education' award. Investors continue to want to see the double bottom line of financial returns and social returns. As we reach $1 billion, we are providing more and more investors with the opportunity to impact the lives of tens of thousands of children every day,” said Anand Kesavan, ESRF founder & CEO.
IMPACT awards judges praised the fund's "interesting finance structure" in particular, which in 2022 received a positive outlook credit rating upgrade from S&P Global Ratings to its existing "A" rating; the first credit improvement since the 2019 inaugural transaction.
The ESRF structure allows the fund to lend to charter schools at rates closer to traditional school district bonds. By decreasing school facility financing costs for quality charter schools, these schools are able to spend more time and resources helping their students continue to achieve academic success.
With this bond issuance, the impact of the loans has increased ESRF’s footprint to over 62,000 students in 19 states and 35 cities.
Of the schools served, 80% of students identify as people of color and 70% qualify as economically disadvantaged. Over 90% of the schools are outperforming their neighborhood counterparts in academic performance and are closing the opportunity and achievement gaps, according to ESRF.
The ESRF won the award for 'Social bond of the year - US muni bond' in Environmental Finance's Bond Awards 2021.