MDE Announces Latest Round of Charter Startup & Replication Grant Winners

On April 18th, the Minnesota Department of Education’s (MDE) Charter Center announced the winners of the fall 2016 round of federal Charter School Program (CSP) Startup and Replication/Expansion grants. The six winners are described below.

Startup Grants

  • Marine Area Community School (Marine): Authorized by the Minnesota Guild of Public Charter Schools (Guild), Marine will be open for the 2017-18 academic year and serve K-6 students in Marine on the St. Croix. According to the school’s website, the school will be “student-centered, designed by teachers, and reinforced and supported by the local community.”
  • Minnesota Academy for Hearing, Speech, and Language (MAHSL): Authorized by the Guild, MAHSL will be open for the 2017-18 academic year and serve K-3 students in Roseville. According to their website, the school will be a center for speech and language, as well as academic excellence, so that students with language delays can "meet their full potential".
  • Skyline Math and Science Academy (Skyline): Authorized by the Guild, Skyline will be open for the 2017-18 academic year and serve K-6 students in Columbia Heights. According to the school’s website, Skyline will be STEM focused with an emphasis on serving underserved populations.
  • New Hope Academy: Authorized by Pillsbury United Communities, New Hope Academy is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2018 and serve grades 6-12 in Duluth.

Replication/Expansion Grants

  • Lionsgate Academy (Lionsgate): Authorized by Novation Education Opportunities, Lionsgate will use the money towards building their new, eastern campus, which is tentatively scheduled to open in Fall 2018 for students in grades 7-10.
  • STEP Academy (STEP): Authorized by Innovative Quality Schools, STEP currently served students in grades 6-12, but will expand to serve students in grades K-12 by the fall of 2017.

What is the CSP Grant Program?

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 charter schools in the state. After the spring 2016 round of CSP grants and the five year grant period ended, MDE had about $12 million in grant money remaining. In December 2016, MDE received a one-year, no cost extension from USDE for the CSP program.

The CSP program consists of two grants—Startup and Replication/Expansion. The Startup Grant is intended for charter 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.

The Replication/Expansion Grant is for charter schools that plan to significantly expand or replicate, serve at least 200 students, and 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.

Each year, MDE carries out two grant cycles. MDE has yet to post the application for the spring 2017 CSP grant cycle.

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