Ed. Note: Two of the three schools receiving these grants—Trenton’s Achievers Early Charter School and Paul Robeson Charter School—were denied expansion plans last year, despite student being three times more likely to meet state proficiency standards in reading and math than students in Trenton district schools. Both schools have reapplied; Education Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan will issue her decisions next month.
Today, the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association (NJPCSA) announced plans to provide $4.25 million to three public charter schools from the Association’s Charter School Program (CSP) grant from the US Department of Education. After a rigorous review process that included charter school experts from across the country, Achievers Early College Prep Charter School and Paul Robeson Charter School in Trenton will each receive $1.5 million and Kindle Education, a new public charter school set to open in 2023 in Jersey City, will receive $1.25 million.
“The Association is proud to award these high-performing charter schools with these grants to increase the number of high-quality educational seats in the State and expand opportunities for all students, particularly traditionally underserved students, to attend public charter schools,” said Harry Lee, President of NJPCSA. “With these grants, we are unequivocally demonstrating our confidence in these schools to deliver on their promise to students, families, and their communities.”
Two of the three of these subgrant awardees will only be eligible to receive this life-changing funding for their communities if their expansion requests are approved by the Department of Education this year. Both Achievers and Robeson were approved for similar grants in NJPCSA’s grant cycle last year but the funds were ultimately not released when the DOE denied their requests for expansion. Both schools made expansion requests again this fall and are expecting a decision in February 2023.
This investment in charter schools in Trenton and Jersey City follows the NJ Department of Education’s late December release of statewide student achievement data that verified that public charter schools are best positioned to improve student learning, particularly for low-income students of color. The data shows Black and Latino public charter school students are twice as likely to be at grade level.
In Trenton, students at Achievers Early College Prep Charter School and Paul Robeson Charter School are nearly three times more likely to meet grade level standards than their district peers in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. Current 9th graders at Achievers closed in on the state average in ELA while high school students at Achievers outperformed their district peers by more than 37 points and are nearly four times more likely to be reading at grade level.
“I am beyond proud of all my students at Achievers Early College Prep,” said Osen Osagie, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the school. “Our students have overcome so many struggles, from the global pandemic to our school’s grade expansion being denied last year. They have continued to apply themselves and these scores prove it.”
“Our entire school community is very grateful for, and energized by, the opportunity that CSP funding would provide for our program,” said Freya Lund, School Director at Paul Robeson Charter School. “Our students, families and staff consistently demonstrate a relentless commitment to quality outcomes for all students. We are hopeful that our demonstrated impact over time results in the ability to serve more students and put these funds toward continuing and enhancing our overall school experience for all stakeholders.”
In addition to NJPCSA’s investment in these school communities, the Association launched the #LetMyChildLearn campaign in November 2022. The campaign features parent voices encouraging the NJ Department of Education to allow students to remain in the schools they love and for more students to have access to a great public-school education. The pending expansion request decisions could impact existing students attending charter schools, as well as the more than 20,000 students on wait lists.
Kindle Education Public Charter School was already approved this past fall by the Department of Education to open a new public charter school in Jersey City. Kindle Education will open in the fall of 2023 with grades 6 and 7 and plans to grow each year until the school serves grades 6-12.
“We are thrilled to serve the diverse families of Jersey City,” said DJ Hartigan and Katie Hahn, co-founders of Kindle Education Public Charter School. “This CSP funding, in addition to the general support of the NJPCSA, will go a long way towards ensuring that we meet the needs of every student who walks through our doors.”
“Families can’t wait any longer and we must continue to invest in what works. Our charter leaders and teachers remain committed to meeting the immense challenges of this moment so that more students can recover socially, emotionally and academically,” concluded Lee.