Our Initiatives

Spark Opportunity Grants: Additional Guidance

Applications will be reviewed holistically based on facility planning need, school population served, mission and academic performance, community engagement, project affordability and project location.  Additional guidance on the selection criteria is provided below:   

  • Established track record
    • Schools with at least one year in operation are eligible to apply.  Schools with a longer track record (three or more years in operation) will receive favorable consideration. 
  • Underserved communities
    • Project is located in or school is considering locations in Opportunity Zone(s)[1].  LISC will consider location of existing school(s), student catchment areas as described in grant application, other evidence supporting potential location in an OZ.  These projects will receive favorable consideration.
    • School predominantly serves low-income students (i.e. 80%+ free- and reduced-price lunch student population) or is an intentionally diverse/diverse by design school
    • Project is located in or school is considering locations in low-income communities outside of OZs, such as severely distressed census tracts as defined by New Markets Tax Credit criteria[2].
  • Grant rationale and impact
    • Grant will support new seats (i.e. a new campus to support additional grades and/or student capacity) or, in the case of a school relocating its existing students, seats in a more suitable and/or permanent facility
    • Grant will leverage significant development and investment (new construction or substantial renovation to create new school facilities)
    • Grant will catalyze and/or optimize the project.  Schools should articulate the impact of the requested grant on the strategic direction of and/or financing scenarios for the project.
  • Academically high-performing
    • School is outperforming the surrounding school district on state academic assessments, graduation rates, student growth and other measures
  • Community engagement
    • Aligned with a community planning process, partnerships with community-based organizations, community representation on board
  • Financially sound
    • School has adequate liquidity (operating reserves), manageable debt, and clear financial reporting and budget

[1] Opportunity Zones FAQ and mapping tool

[2] The New Markets Tax Credit program defines “severely distressed census tracts” as a census tract with income at or lower than 80 percent area median income or poverty greater than 20 percent.