Gates Foundation Invests $13 Million in Washington State Charter Schools

Gates Foundation Invests $13 Million in Washington State Charter Schools

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced grants totaling more than $13 million to help establish public charter schools in Washington State.

Recipients of the grants include the Washington State Charter Schools Association, which was awarded $4.2 million to expand its support for educators looking to open charter schools and outreach efforts in local communities. Established with the help of funding from the Gates Foundation after voters approved a charter school ballot initiative in 2012, the association has created a fellowship program that works with local leaders interested in starting a charter school — including the founder of the first charter school in the state, which was approved earlier this month.

Other recipients include Spokane Public Schools, which approved the first charter school in the state and was awarded $525,000; Charter Board Partners, which will receive $500,000 to help charter schools in the state recruit strong boards; and Seneca Family of Agencies, which was awarded $200,000 to develop integrated support systems for special education and at-risk students attending charter schools in the state.

The foundation also awarded $4 million to Summit Public Schools and $4.2 million to Green Dot Public Schools, both California-based charter management organizations looking to expand into Washington. Both organizations have been engaging with communities in the western part of the state, where they hope to adapt their existing models to the needs of local communities.

"With the addition of public charter schools, we are working to help build collaborations and partnerships that give parents access to a variety of high-quality public school options to find the right fit for their child," said David Bley, director of the Gates Foundation's Pacific Northwest program. "Our goal is to ensure every child in Washington has the opportunity to receive a great education."