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Impact Public Schools Receives $1 Million Grant from Charter School Growth Fund

Jul 10, 2017 | Blog

Impact Public Schools Receives $1 Million Grant from Charter School Growth Fund

Washington-Based Charter Public School Organization Receives Its Second Prestigious Funding Award to Support Launch


SEATTLE – Today, the Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF) announced it is awarding $1 million to Impact Public Schools (IPS), a homegrown Washington charter public school organization, to help launch its first school in 2018 and eventually grow to 8 schools across the state. The award also includes support for facilities financing.

IPS is co-founded by Jen Davis Wickens and Natalie Hester, two leaders local to Washington who share a powerful history in community-based work in the South Puget Sound region, including building the Summit Public Schools network in Washington state.

“We are incredibly honored and excited to receive this generous award from Charter School Growth Fund,” said Wickens. “The funding will serve as a critical resource as we launch our first charter school in Tukwila, and this vote of confidence from Charter School Growth Fund is an indication that our team’s efforts to build excellent public schools in Washington are off to a strong start.”

CSGF is a national nonprofit that identifies the nation’s best public charter schools, funds their expansion, and helps to increase their impact. Independent studies have shown that schools selected to receive support from CSGF have significant gains on student learning. Last month, a report from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found that students at schools that receive CSGF funding gain, on average, the equivalent of four additional months of learning in math and three additional months of learning in reading each year. CSGF’s award to IPS is the organization’s first direct investment in Washington state, and is only the second time CSGF has funded an early stage network operator at this level.

“We have a thorough vetting process to identify charter schools that have great potential, and we are thrilled to be offering this grant to Impact Public Schools. Jen and Natalie have a strong track record of success, and we are impressed with the IPS leadership and their planning efforts,” said Ian Connell, Investment Associate. “We believe that all students deserve a great public school in their community, and we are confident that Impact Public School’s will deliver on that promise as they launch in Washington.”

The charter organization is launching its first school in Tukwila in Fall, 2018 after receiving authorization from the Washington State Charter School Commission in June. Impact: Tukwila will educate more than 500 students in grades K-5 at full capacity, and will provide students with rigorous instruction in core content areas while helping cultivate deeper learning skills and leadership habits from a young age. The school’s model will have a deep focus on social-emotional learning; beginning in kindergarten, students are immersed in rich curriculum and conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Impact: Tukwila has already received tremendous support from parents and families in Tukwila, and IPS is focusing its efforts on enrolling a diverse student body that reflects the community, one of the most racially and economically diverse school districts in the state of Washington.

After the successful launch of its first school, IPS plans to open seven additional charter public schools in other high-needs regions across Washington state.

About Washington’s Charter Public Schools

Charter schools are a type of public school, approved and overseen by a state or district authorizer. Like all public schools, they do not charge tuition, they are open to all students, and they are publicly funded. However, charter public schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement. In exchange for greater accountability, teachers and principals are given more flexibility to customize their teaching methods and curriculum to improve student learning.

In 2016-17, more than 1,600 students attended eight charter public schools in Washingotn. In 2017-18, ten charter public schools will be operating and serving more than 2,500 students across the state. In 2018, the sector will grow even more, with the opening of Willow Public School in Walla Walla and Impact Public Schools’ elementary charter public school in Tukwila.

Washington’s charter public schools are helping to close the education equity gap. A majority of charter public school students in Washington are students of color, as compared to 43 percent statewide, and a majority of charter public school students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, as compared to 45 percent statewide. Reflecting the diversity of the students they serve, 39 percent of our schools’ founding teachers identified as people of color, whereas the the statewide average for nonwhite teachers is 13 percent.

In some communities, traditional public schools are meeting the needs of local students. But in other communities – particularly communities of color that struggle with poverty – they are not. According to 2015-16 academic results, students at Washington’s charter public schools are making impressive gains in reading and math.