Search
Close this search box.

Charter Schools Program

What is the Charter Schools Program? 

The Charter Schools Program (CSP) is the nation’s only source of dedicated federal funding to support the creation, expansion, and replication of public charter schools. At its fiscal year (FY) 2023 funding level of $440 million, the CSP amounts to less than 1% of federal spending on K-12 education but has a significant impact on the communities that charter schools serve.

For more than 25 years, the CSP has provided resources to help ensure every child can access a high-quality public education, especially for students with disabilities, English learners, and other historically underserved students. The CSP forms the backbone of the charter school movement, strengthening efforts to provide more equitable opportunities for all students.

Because charter schools cannot access per-pupil funding until students enroll, the CSP provides essential short-term funding to cover school start-up costs. Nearly one-half of charter schools operating today were made possible by CSP funding.

Current Reach of CSP Grants (2023)

32 states have active State Entity grants.

9 states have State Entity and developer grants.*

9 states, including Puerto Rico, have only a developer grant.*

7 states with charter school laws, including Guam, do not have a CSP grant.

*Puerto Rico, Guam, and the District of Columbia are considered states for the purposes of this document.

*States can have both developer and state entity grants when there are developer grantees that received their awards before the state entity received its grant.

Map of Charter School Program Grant Reach

Learn more in the federal charter schoolS program 2023 annual report

2023 Impact Report

Why does the Charter Schools Program matter?

  • The Charter Schools Program (CSP) plays a vital role in helping public charter schools grow and meet community needs. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education estimates more than 1 million students have access to high-quality public schools that would not have existed without the CSP.
  • Most importantly, high-quality charter schools can deliver life-changing results, especially for students from low-income backgrounds and students of color:  
  • A 2021 meta-analysis of research on charter school effects and competitive influence by the National Bureau of Economic Research highlighted trends from three decades of research. Top findings include that charters located in urban areas boost student test scores, particularly for Black, Latino, and low-income students; that attending some urban charter schools increases college enrollment and voting; and that the competitive impact of charter schools on traditional public schools suggests a small beneficial influence on neighboring schools’ student achievement.  
  • A 2020 study from the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University found that students attending charter schools made greater academic gains from 2005 to 2017 than students attending district-operated schools, amounting to nearly and additional half-year’s worth of learning. The gains were most significant for Black students and low-income students.  
  • Research from the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University in 2023 shows, based on year-to-year national academic progress from the 2014-15 school year to the 2018-19 school year, charter school students outpaced their traditional public school peers in both reading and math learning gains. On average, in a year, charter school students had 16 days of additional learning in reading and six additional days of learning in math.   
  • During the first two full school years of the pandemic, more than 240,000 additional students enrolled in charter schools, representing 7% growth. Charter schools were the only sector of public education to grow during the 2020-2021 school year and strong public support for charter schools indicates there are more parents who would consider sending their child to a charter school. In fact, a 2022 national survey conducted by The Harris Poll found that 81% of parents support expanding the number of slots in existing public charter schools in their area and 78% want more public charter school offerings in their area.  CSP funds are critical to meet community needs.

What is included in the Charter Schools Program?

The Charter Schools Program (CSP) includes multiple competitions for funds to address the different needs of the charter school community. See the program pages for each competition for more information and to see the most recent grantees:  

  • Grants to state entities (SE grants) make up the largest CSP grant component. These grants can be awarded to state education agencies (SEAs), governors, state charter school boards, or state charter school support organizations (CSOs) which, in turn, award subgrants for the planning and initial operation of new charter schools.   
  • Grants for replication and expansion of high-quality schools (CMO grants) are awarded to nonprofit charter management organizations (CMOs) that have shown evidence of success to help them open new schools or expand existing schools to serve more students.   
  • Facilities financing assistance includes the Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities Program (CE), which provides support for charter schools to acquire or renovate facilities, and the State Charter School Facilities Incentive Grant, which provides matching funds for states that provide funding for charter school facilities on a per-pupil basis.  
  • Grants to developers: In states where no state entity has an active CSP grant, individual schools and CMOs may apply directly to the U.S. Department of Education for funds to support opening a new school or to replicate or expand a high-quality school.   
  • National dissemination grants: The key purpose of these grants is to increase quality throughout the sector by disseminating best practices related to charter school operations and management.  

Where does Charter Schools Program funding go?

For Fiscal Year (FY) 2023, the Charter Schools Program is funded at $440 million, the same allocation it has received since FY 2019. That funding is split between five programs:  

  • $224 million for grants to state entities to support high-quality charter schools. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis to state entities that in turn make subgrants to charter schools.  
  • $140 million for charter school replication and expansion. Grants are awarded on 
    a competitive basis to nonprofit charter management organizations (CMOs) that have demonstrated success, including improved academic achievement.  
  • Not less than $60 million for facilities financing assistance through Credit Enhancement for Charter School Facilities and State Facilities Incentive Grants (SFIG). Of that, not more than $10 million will be available for SFIG. Credit Enhancement grants are awarded on a competitive basis to community development financial institutions and public entities that help charter schools finance facilities. State Facilities Incentive Grants give matching funds to states that help charter schools pay for facilities.  
  • Not more than $16 million for National Dissemination Grants. These competitive grants are for projects of national significance to improve charter school quality. 

protect our charter schools

During the 2023 federal appropriations cycle the CSP faced a huge hurdle.

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee advanced a bill that would have cut CSP funding by $40 million. This came on the heels of an effort by the U.S. Department of Education to make it more difficult for charter schools to access CSP funds–which jeopardized their ability to open, replicate, and expand. To combat this direct attack on charter schools, the National Alliance sprang into action with a robust campaign to educate policymakers, generate high-profile earned media coverage, and use our social media platforms and influence to activists across the nation. Our advocacy campaigns over the past two years netted more than 50,000 emails to members of Congress and 20,000 comment letters to the U.S. Department of Education.

sign up for our advocacy list to join the fight!

Notice

You are now leaving the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Website

trophy icon

Memorial Gifts

Contact Celia Hagerman at [email protected] or 202-600-8994.

trophy icon

Commemorative Gifts

Contact Celia Hagerman at [email protected] or 202-600-8994.

Notice

You are now leaving the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Website

Notice

You are now leaving the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Website

Notice

You are now leaving the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Website

Notice

You are now leaving the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Website

Notice

You are now leaving the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Website

Notice

You are now leaving the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Website

STAY INFORMED

Get the latest charter school updates straight to your inbox.

shapes icon

Wire Transfers

For questions regarding wire transfers, please email of call Celia Hagerman at [email protected] or 202-600-8994.

shapes icon

Gifts of Stock

For questions regarding stock, please email of call Celia Hagerman at [email protected] or 202-600-8994.

shapes icon

Matching Gifts

If you or your spouse work for a company that provides matching gifts, you can make an even bigger impact! To have your gift matched, you must submit your company’s completed matching gift form.

Please send all completed matching gift forms to:

National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
800 Connecticut Ave. N.W. Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006.

If this donation will be potentially matched, please provide the company name.

Advocates Council

Contact Celia Hagerman at [email protected] or 202-600-8994.

calendar icon

Legacy Society

Contact Celia Hagerman at [email protected] or 202-600-8994 to learn more about the Legacy Society or for any other inquiries regarding planned giving.