The Walton Family Foundation has announced that its investment in boosting the number of new high-quality charter schools has surpassed $300 million.
The nearly $313 million in grants from the largest private funder of charter school startups have supported the creation of 1,437 charter schools since 1997, including $29 million in 2012 startup grants for a hundred and eleven new schools scheduled to open in the next few years. The majority of recent startup grants have been concentrated in sixteen investment sites — Albany, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Harlem, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Newark, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. — with a sizeable number of low-performing schools.
In 2012, the foundation also invested $40 million and $12.6 million in the Charter School Growth Fund and the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) network, while more than half of its startup grants went to single-site schools.
"High-performing public charter schools are growing rapidly to meet the demands of families across the United States," said Ed Kirby, deputy director of the foundation's K-12 Education Reform Focus Area. "The charter school movement is a dramatic example of how we can redefine American public education as a choice-based system in which parents are directly empowered to choose from a growing field of new, high-quality school options. Much like publicly funded vouchers, digital learning options, and traditional school system choice programs, charter schools are helping set the standard for choice-based education reform."