The Charter Schools Lenders’ Coalition (CSLC) brings together mission-driven community development practitioners who are currently providing financial and development services to charter schools in low-income communities. CSLC members are representatives of organizations that share a common mission to improve the viability of low-income and economically distressed communities.

The main goal of the CSLC is to facilitate the charter school industry’s access to capital and technical assistance critical to the development of successful, well managed schools housed in appropriate facilities. Our activities also include creating a collective voice to advocate actively for public policy changes that support charter schools’ efforts to build and strengthen communities.

Our Results

With support from foundations and the U.S. Department of Education, over two dozen nonprofit lenders have supplied over $2.5 billion in direct financial support and another $1.15 billion in New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) to charter school facilities across the country.

To date:

  • The CSLC has financed more than 1,400 charter school projects in dozens of states.
  • The members of the CSLC often serve newer charter schools with little surplus cash-flow or limited collateral, yet their default rate is less than 1 percent.
  • CSLC members also assist more mature charter schools to attract private capital from traditional lenders and the tax-exempt bond market, and have helped raise billions of dollars in additional low-cost capital.

The Challenge

Despite successes, charter school lenders still have limited liquidity and face substantial challenges in attracting additional financial resources for charter school facility projects. The recession and subsequent tightening of credit have hollowed the amount of private capital available for charter school facilities, with commercial lenders scaling back their community development lending department and tightening their underwriting criteria. Furthermore, the Department of Education’s Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities Program has been scaled from a high of $37.2 million in fiscal year 2004 to a new low of $8.3 million in 2011. As a result, an ever-increasing number of low-income students remain on waiting lists to begin schooling at an ever-shrinking number of charter schools able to access adequate capital for their facilities needs. Until charter school lenders are able to access adequate capital for charter school facilities, hundreds of thousands of students will be denied the transformative, empowering opportunity to attend a high-quality charter school.

One aspect of our work is to act as a voice for the charter sector. By being a reliable source of information and analysis for policymakers, and by working together, the CSLC projects the voices of successful charter leaders into national policy. We work to reinforce the idea that charter schools are an essential component of education reform.