Winners of Minnesota Charter Grants and National Blue Ribbon Awards Announced

Charter Schools Program Grant Winners

On September 28th, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) announced the winners of the spring 2016 round of their Charter School Program (CSP) Startup and Replication/Expansion grants. In 2012, MDE received $28 million from the United States Department of Education (USDE) to be used over the course of five years for grants to chartered schools in the state.

The six winners this cycle were:

  • Startup Grants
    • Forten Academy
    • North Metro Flex Academy
    • Phoenix Academy
  • Replication/Expansion Grants
    • Crosslake Community School
    • Great River School
    • Noble Academy

The Startup Grant is intended for chartered schools that are in-development or in their first two years of operation. The award ranges from $100,000 to $225,000 each year for up to three years. In order to be eligible for the grant, the charter school must be approved by an authorizer and obtain a new charter school "affidavit" from MDE. In the spring 2016 round, four schools applied.

The Replication/Expansion Grant is for chartered schools that have plans to significantly expand or replicate and that are also identified by the MDE as “high-quality”. The high-quality designation is based on multiple measures of a school’s operational, academic, and financial performance.

Like the startup grant, the replication/expansion grant award ranges from $100,000 to $225,000 each year for up to three years, with the first year intended for planning and the other two years for carrying out the expansion. For the spring 2016 grant cycle, there were thirty-five charter schools that were identified as high-quality; of those, only four schools applied.

Since 2014, the MDE has awarded thirty-seven startup grants and ten replication/expansion grants. About $16 million of the total CSP grant funds have been awarded. In early 2017, MDE plans to apply for a no-cost extension so they have more time to award the remaining $12 million.

MDE awards charter grants during two cycles each year. The second 2016 cycle will run this fall.

National Blue Ribbon Schools

Also on September 28th, the US Department of Education (USDE) recognized two Minnesota chartered schools—Friendship Academy of the Arts and DaVinci Academy of Arts and Science—as National Blue Ribbon Schools. Friendship Academy is only the second Minneapolis school to be recognized in sixteen years. Yinghua Academy, a chartered school in Minneapolis, was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School last year.

Started in 1982, the award recognizes schools based on their “overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.” In total, only five schools in Minnesota and 329 nationally, were recognized.

MDE Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said in a statement, “We’re so proud of the Minnesota schools receiving recognition on a national state. Minnesotans across our state should celebrate the incredible work going on in our schools by our students and teachers.”

Each school receives a plaque and will be able to fly the National Blue Ribbon Schools flag as a symbol of exemplary teaching and learning. In addition, on November 7th and 8th, USDE will honor all 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools at a ceremony in Washington DC.

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