The Walton Family Foundation announced today that it is putting $300 million into readily available, lower-cost loans for charter schools, including in Arkansas, to purchase or build school buildings.
Just two years ago, $250 million of Walton money was pumped into charter schools in seventeen cities, including in Little Rock, to give them access to capital for building or acquiring new facilities.
From the Foundation press release, here is the description of the two funds it is creating:
The Charter Impact Fund, a new, non-profit organization, will launch with $200 million in seed funding and provide long-term, fixed-rate loans—similar to a home mortgage—to high-performing charter schools anywhere in the country for up to 100 percent of project costs. …
Created in collaboration with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and managed by Civic Builders, the $100 million Facilities Investment Fund will offer public charter schools five-year fixed-rate loans for up to 90 percent of project costs for new construction or facility renovation.
The move will provide a boost to charter school building efforts in Arkansas on top of the recent efforts by the governor and legislature to give charter schools better access and more funding for buildings, including $6.5 million in public funds approved by the legislature this year.
eStem in Little Rock is one obvious potential beneficiary of Walton loan money — it’s in the middle of a massive expansion, having recently opened an $11.4 million high school campus and currently building a $24.5 million elementary and junior high.
The well-heeled campaign to lure students away from conventional public school districts continues apace.