School Financing

Nonprofit Pledges $500M to Public Charter Schools Led By People of Color

The Equitable Facilities Fund announced Thursday that it is making a $500 million commitment to public charter schools run by people of color. EFF is a social-impact nonprofit that finances facilities for high-performing public charter schools.

EFF said the funding, to be fully disbursed by 2026, will provide low-cost loans for school facilities to approximately 30 public charter schools with leaders of color, supporting 50,000 students across the country. The dedicated funding will save recipient schools an estimated $100 million in borrowing costs compared to other financing sources, EFF said in a news release. 

Research has consistently shown that a more diverse leadership in public schools leads to higher high school graduation rates among Black students, and a higher likelihood that those graduates will attend college. 

Achieving consistently better outcomes for students of color requires more teachers of color and more principals of color, according to studies by Johns Hopkins University, American University, and the Annenberg Institute. But schools that install more diverse faculty and leadership often then face greater barriers to accessing the financial resources required by thriving public charter schools, noted EFF founder and CEO Anand Kesavan. 

"The lack of affordable access to capital holds back our best schools from growing," Kesavan said in the news release. "As investors and as philanthropists, we've long been focused on how issues of race impact our work. Investing in communities of color can no longer be something we do as part of our business plan, it has to be our business plan. For EFF, quality public schools unlock opportunity, and school leaders sit at the very top of this value chain." 

Darryl Cobb, president of the Charter School Growth Fund, agreed that financing options grow considerably more limited when schools’ leadership is more diverse. 

“The barriers school leaders of color encounter when it comes to starting and expanding great schools for their communities are real, significant and unjust," said Cobb, who founded CSGF's Emerging CMO Fund to connect school leaders of color to funding, resources and mentorship nearly a decade ago. 

"EFF's dedicated financial commitment to these leaders signals a major shift in the way things can and should be done." 

Since 2018, over 100 public charter schools have obtained about $585 million in low-cost financing from EFF, the fund said; and those schools report enrollments with about 70% of students considered economically disadvantaged, and with 82% identifying as people of color. “Demonstrating the power of quality education, 94% of students in EFF schools outperform their district peers,” the news release noted.

EFF is supported by the Walton Family Foundation's Building Equity Initiative, which aims to make access to facilities funding for public charter schools both easier and more affordable. More information regarding EFF's Leaders of Color Initiative, as well as an application form is available on the EFF’s website.

About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].