About SchoolBuild

A LISC Research Portal for Charter Schools Embarking on a Facilities Project


SchoolBuild: From Idea to Construction is a one-stop shop for guidance and information about developing facilities for charter schools. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) created this research portal with an aim to smooth the path for school leaders embarking on a real estate project, increase schools’ access to the capital markets, provide relevant sector data that’s updated in real time—and ultimately lower schools’ cost of capital by promoting transparency and competition among vendors.

SchoolBuild includes the information traditionally found in our Landscape Studies, but also guides schools through the entire facility-development process, from start to finish. It is designed to provide practical insights and solutions to charter school leaders at any and all stages of the process. They will be able to identify potential partners for their construction projects, determine what they can afford and what their project will cost, and learn best practices for completing their facility projects.

The content guides and key document templates found within the “Understanding Your Needs” and “Essential Resources” sections of the site are either written by LISC staff or made available online as an excerpt from The Answer Key, a resource developed by Capital Impact Partners. The contributions of LISC and Capital Impact Partners are grounded in years of working with high-quality charter schools to secure the right facility financing for their needs.

SchoolBuild has a logical structure…

To navigate content, users simply progress through eight sections that represent key stages in the facility development process, from needs assessment to financing and construction.

…and user-friendly features you won’t find anywhere else.

How do I begin? SchoolBuild’s Understanding Your Needs section, the starting place for all users, will help school leaders understand what they need to know before launching a facilities project. The section includes guiding questions for choosing the right development partners, best practices for making advantageous deals, and specialized advice for start-up schools, among other guides.

Where can I find helpful tools? The Essential Resources feature of each section includes checklists, forms, templates, and worksheets that will help users with everything from putting together a cash flow pro forma to managing construction risks.

How do I know if my school is financially ready to take on a facility project? SchoolBuild’s unique Project Cost Calculator, is a critical tool to help charter school leaders size their project so it meets the school’s needs—at a cost it can afford.

Where can I find financing options and other vendors?  SchoolBuild includes a verified compendium of federal and state facility financing programs. There’s also a survey-based directory of key vendors, including real estate developers, bond underwriters, financial consultants, nonprofit lenders, and national commercial banks.

What if I need help understanding technical terms? SchoolBuild’s comprehensive glossary will help educators decipher the language of real estate and finance.

Contact us: schoolbuild@lisc.org

SchoolBuild is made possible by the dedication, persistence and project management skills of Sybil St. Hilaire, SchoolBuild Lead Project Manager.

Written & compiled by: Reena Abraham and Sybil St. Hilaire

We would like to extend special thanks to the following people for their contributions to SchoolBuild: Rajeev Bajaj, Kitamba; Elise Balboni, LISC; Nicole Barcliff, LISC; Beth Bray, Walton Family Foundation; Clara Chae, LISC; Lauren Counts, Capital Impact Partners; Ben Cummings, Blenderbox; Sam Gray, Blenderbox; Katharine Greider; Jim Griffin, Momentum Strategy & Research; Klade Hare, Capital Impact Partners; Casey Harron, LISC; Roxanne Hazelwood, Blenderbox; Carmen Maldonado, Turner Impact Capital; Jessica Morffi, National Alliance; Janaya Reid, Blenderbox; Estiven Rodriguez, LISC; Matthew Scheer, LISC; Marianne Shafer, Kitamba; Tim Shaw, Blenderbox; Sara Sorbello, LISC; Charmian Stewart, LISC; Michael Tang, LISC; Yvonne Tou, LISC; Mark Viehman, Kitamba; Christy Wolfe, National Alliance; and Adib Zaidi, LISC.

Hundreds of individuals generously gave their time to provide us with data and information during the course of our research, patiently answer follow-up questions and referring us to other individuals knowledgeable in the area we were exploring.