The Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) announced today that it has awarded a $2 million growth grant to Esperanza Academy Charter School, a college preparatory high school in North Philadelphia. The school plans to expand to serve 635 additional students in grades six through eight over the next two years.
"We created the Great Schools Fund for opportunities like this," said Mark Gleason, Executive Director of PSP. "This is a high school serving a neighborhood that lacks enough great school options. Ninety percent of Esperanza's students graduate, and a majority of those graduates go on to college. Adding a middle school will help Esperanza put even more students on the track to college that much earlier."
Esperanza serves predominantly minority and low-income students living in the Hunting Park neighborhood of Philadelphia. The school's four-year graduation rate has been above 90 percent for the last three years, and 54 percent of its Class of 2011 graduates enrolled in postsecondary education. Seventeen percent of the school's students speak English as a second language.
"We cannot begin to express how grateful we are to the Philadelphia School Partnership for this opportunity," said David Rossi, CEO of Nueva Esperanza Academy. "These funds will permit us to educate additional students in our community at an earlier age in order to achieve even greater outcomes. This grant will positively affect the lives of young people in our community for years to come."
Esperanza currently educates 750 students in its high school and recently opened its middle school to serve 50 students in grades six and seven. Last spring, the School Reform Commission approved an expansion of Esperanza. By fall of 2013, the middle school will serve 685 students in grades six through eight. Funding from the Great Schools Fund will support growth costs including leadership and teacher training, technology, facilities and equipment.
"Esperanza combines a high-level of student engagement with rigorous college preparation," said Jessica Pena, Director of the Great Schools Fund. "The school's leaders believe, and have proven, that all students can achieve at high levels. They set high expectations for all their students, while providing high supports, such as bilingual tutoring, after school instruction, and individualized attention. Our funding will make it possible for them to offer this high-quality education to more students."
About the Great Schools Fund
PSP's Great Schools Fund pools philanthropic dollars from a diverse group of funders to strategically invest in the incubation, startup and expansion of high-performing schools across Philadelphia. PSP recently announced it has raised over $50 million toward the $100 million Fund goal. This round of grants brings PSP's total investments in schools to $9.3 million, with a cumulative impact on nearly 8,000 seats.
The Fund invests in K-12 schools of any type with the capacity to deliver outstanding educational outcomes for children in the city, including traditional district, charter, and private schools. The goal of the Fund is to replace the 35,000 lowest performing seats in Philadelphia by 2016-17 with higher performing ones by turning around low-performing schools, expanding high performing schools, or creating new high-quality schools. PSP's investment team conducts a rigorous screening process for grant applicants to evaluate their capacity for delivering strong educational outcomes; its recommendations are vetted by an investment committee before being presented to the PSP Board of Directors for approval.