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NC Charter Schools Invited to Apply for Grant Funds Under New Initiative

Starting today, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction is seeking formal proposals from charter schools across the state to join a $26.6 million federally funded state initiative to help meet the needs of educationally disadvantaged students.

Under the five-year program, Advancing Charter Collaboration and Excellence for Student Success, or NC ACCESS, the Department of Public Instruction expects to award five-year grants of up to $600,000 to 10 schools this year and 40 additional schools during the next four years.

The funds are intended for new and existing charter schools to better meet the needs of traditionally underserved students – those who are economically disadvantaged, homeless or unaccompanied youth, non-native English speakers and students with disabilities.

North Carolina is one of eight states to be awarded grant funding this year under the Expanding Opportunities Through Quality Charter Schools Program from the U.S. Department of Education. The key goals of the federal grant program are to expand opportunities for all students, particularly educationally disadvantaged students, to attend high-quality charter schools and meet challenging academic standards as well as to increase the number of effective charter schools available to students across the country.

“I am excited that North Carolina was awarded this highly competitive grant from the Department of Education,” said Dave Machado, director of the Office of Charter Schools at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. “This grant will help us promote high-quality schools and open more schools in the underserved rural areas of North Carolina.”

The funding in North Carolina will be used for sub-grants to new and existing charter schools to:

*Increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students attending high-quality charter schools and expand the number of high-quality charter schools available to educationally disadvantaged students;
*Develop a cohort of 100 charter school leaders who can develop and demonstrate best practices in serving educationally disadvantaged students; and
*Broadly disseminate best practices in serving educationally disadvantaged students and foster collaboration in the charter school community and between charter schools and traditional public schools.

North Carolina has 184 operating charter schools this school year, and 12 more schools plan to open next year. Charter schools are governed by a nonprofit board and must accept all eligible students who apply, holding a lottery for seats if the school is oversubscribed.

The competitive sub-grants will be available to eligible charter schools to help fund planning, implementation, expansion, and replication. The State Board of Education and Charter Schools Advisory Board will approve all eligibility criteria and granting of awards. Leaders from schools awarded sub-grants will complete a yearlong ACCESS Fellowship, an immersive professional development experience intended to provide support and technical assistance to effectively develop, expand, and replicate schools. By the end of fifth year of the NC ACCESS initiative, the program will have created a community of 100 charter school leaders who have developed and demonstrated best practices in serving educationally disadvantaged students.

“The CSP grant represents an important step forward for the charter school sector in North Carolina,” said Alex Quigley, chairman of the Charter Schools Advisory Board. “This investment will help drive innovation in the important work of ensuring all students in this state have the opportunity to choose an excellent education.”

A letter of intent to apply for a sub-grant is due by Feb. 15, sub-grant applications are due by March 31, and the State Board of Education will approve awards in June. Orientation for sub-grant awardees and the ACCESS Fellowship begin in July.

More information is available online from the Office of Charter Schools.

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