Kansas City is one of 17 cities nationwide selected by the Walton Family Foundation to have access to some of the $250 million it has set aside to help charters finance school buildings.
Charter public schools in Kansas City that are looking to move into an existing building or construct a new facility can apply for a loan from the foundation. The organization’s goal is to help public charter schools serve at least 250,000 more students across the nation by 2027.
The Building Equity Initiative will provide low-interest loans to national and regional not-for-profit lenders, which will help finance facilities for new and growing charter schools.
“We think students deserve a great facility no matter what school they attend,” said Aaron North, vice president of education for the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which has a charter school here at 6401 Paseo.
Walton foundation officials said in a statement that they started the initiative because nationwide there are some 600,000 students on waiting lists to attend public charter schools. Meanwhile, the foundation said, “only one in three states with charter schools provide public funding for facilities. And opportunities to share space with district schools are limited in most cities.”
Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, said the lack of access to facilities’ financing “is the single biggest barrier to opening the door to more high-quality charter schools” in many cities.
“The Building Equity Initiative intends to level the capital and policy barriers that prevent charter schools from growing to meet demand from families and communities,” Marc Sternberg, the director of the Walton foundation’s K-12 Education Program, said in a statement.
The Walton Foundation, begun by Wal-Mart’s founders, has invested more than $1.3 billion since 1992 in K-12 education.