With the help of LISC’s Community Investment Collaborative for Kids program, the Guilford Center for Children relocated and doubled its capacity. LISC provided a $25,000 grant for predevelopment activities that helped the Center obtain $2.2 million in state bond financing to convert two historic barns. This project is part of an innovative financing program that LISC helped design, which provided capital for 29 facilities across the state. The Center now offers a premier curriculum, hi-quality classroom space, and a newly built playground for 60 children. Though located in an affluent area, the center is the only one to serve the community’s low-income families.
LISC is keenly focused on improving the educational opportunities for children who otherwise are left to failing community institutions. In Los Angeles, we’ve collaborated with Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools on financing for 11 schools serving 8,500 students, including $3 million in 2011 for two new schools serving middle- and high school students. High expectations and high achievements are the norm at Alliance. In the past year, 97 percent of the Alliance’s four-year high school seniors graduated, with 77 percent attending a four-year college and 15 percent attending a two-year college or trade school.
Educare Arizona is a new facility in Phoenix that is helping low-income families ensure their young children are ready for school while providing critical services to the community. A nationally renowned program, Educare combines the best of Head Start, child care, preschool and family support. LISC used $8 million of its New Markets Tax Credit allocation to support the 33,000 square foot facility, and helped create 100 permanent and construction jobs in the process. Educare Arizona serves 191 children from birth to age five. It also includes an onsite integrative health clinic to address the physical and social-emotional health needs of local families. The clinic also serves as a training ground for medical students, better preparing them to manage community health issues.
Through the JP Morgan Chase-LISC New Markets Tax Credit Charter School Investment Fund, LISC provided $15 million in refinancing for UNO Charter Schools Network, which operates 11 schools in Chicago serving 5,500 students. The financing included $10.5 million in debt and equity from JPMorgan Chase Bank and a $3.2 million subordinate debt from LISC funded by Allstate. UNO is the nation’s largest Hispanic-based charter school organization and serves predominantly low-income neighborhoods with overcrowded schools. Responsive to its student base, UNO provides a full English immersion curriculum for its students, approximately 30% of whom have limited English proficiency.
Strong schools and quality early childhood education are fundamental for kids and central to the health of the communities where they live. After-school and summer learning programs further that, as do recreational programs and public service opportunities for youth. Together, they give low-income families confidence that their children can realize the American Dream.
LISC invests in public charter schools, affordable child care centers, out-of-school time programs and service learning that goes beyond the traditional classroom. We know disadvantaged communities cannot fully recover without access to a quality education for their children. Sustainable communities are one ripe with opportunity.