Our Initiatives

Charter School Financing

What we do

Access to high quality public education sets the foundation for a healthy neighborhood and ensures that people, and not just places, prosper. In many communities, charter schools are the only high-quality education option available. Today, more than 6,700 public schools operate under charters in the United States, educating 2.7 million children. Despite this growth, however, building and renovating facilities remains a major hurdle for new and existing public charter schools.

$382 million
invested in charter schools
school seats funded

Charter school operators have demonstrated remarkable grit in overcoming these facilities challenges in order to continue serving families. By some counts, there are one million children on charter school waiting lists–emphasizing how the expansion of the sector has not kept pace with demand from families and communities. Through the Charter School Financing program, our goal is to ensure access to affordable capital for charter schools so that precious public resources can be reserved for use in the classroom.

At Kipp Academy's Douglass Campus in Washington, DC
At Kipp Academy's Douglass Campus in Washington, DC

LISC has supported educational facilities improvements, construction and development since 1997 through our local offices and in 2003, created a national program to finance charter school development across the country. We also conduct research that helps inform policy changes around facilities financing.

What we believe

All children deserve access to a successful public school in their community. We fund school construction for high-quality public charter schools that serve predominantly low-income students.

To realize our vision:

  • we lend money to schools to acquire, build or renovate facilities
  • we promote transparency of financing options to help school leaders secure affordable debt
  • we influence public policy to lower the cost of capital, keeping more dollars in the classroom

What we offer

  • Loans that provide charter schools with financing for acquisition, construction, leasehold improvements and mini-perm uses. This financing is often provided in conjunction with other lenders.
  • Recoverable Grants to be used for predevelopment expenses, including architect fees, appraisals, environmental surveys and site feasibility studies—costs that must be paid prior to acquisition or construction closing. Recoverable grants are interest free and repaid when a project receives financing.
  • New Markets Tax Credits that provide qualifying charter schools with additional equity and reduce financing costs. We provide this financing through LISC’s affiliate, the New Markets Support Company (NMSC), the nation's largest distributor of New Markets Tax Credits and which has financed 11 charter schools to date. Read more about our NMTC work and NMSC’s Project Financing services.
  • Publications allow us to provide the latest information on the state of the charter school facility financing sector. Through our various publications, including the Charter School Facility Finance Landscape, Charter School Bond Issuances, and  Special Articles and Research we keep the next-generation of charter schools, policy makers, and finance professionals educated.
  • Technical Assistance is provided to schools through our SchoolBuild research portal, which is meant to guide schools through the facility development process from start to finish. SchoolBuild provides the most up-to-date content guides, essential document templates, a project cost calculator, a service provider directory, as well as the latest federal and state facility financing data. Charter school leaders at any and all stages of the process will be able find practical insights and solutions they need.