The federal government offers startup funding through the Charter Schools Program (CSP). Through 2019 or 2020, newly authorized Illinois charters can apply for CSP sub-grants of up to $950,000 over three years through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Find more details here. Once ISBE’s grant ends, Illinois charter founders can apply directly to the U.S. Department of Education for CSP funds here.
In addition, some charter designers have received startup funding from the following sources:
- NewSchools Invent: Funding and support for teams of educators with ambitious plans to open innovative new public schools (goal of opening multiple schools)
- Next Generation Learning Challenge: Planning and launch grants for developers of new “blended learning” school models that utilize technology to dramatically improve student outcomes
- Charter School Growth Fund: Typically funds existing, high quality charter schools to expand.
Charter founders also often tap into their personal networks, such as by making direct asks or using online funding tools (e.g., GoFundMe) to solicit startup funds from friends, family and more distant connections. They can also research and cultivate relationships with local businesses or community-based organizations, individual donors and foundations (such as family foundations) that may lead to funding or partnership opportunities.