Last year the U.S. Department of Education proposed new rules for the Charter Schools Program that generated significant opposition from the charter school community. After making revisions to address a few, but not all, of our major concerns, grants went out under the new rules after a rushed, 30-day window to put together very complex applications. Fortunately, the Department opened this year’s competition much earlier and applications are now available for the 2023 Charter Schools Program (CSP) State Entity (SE) competition, the largest subprogram within the CSP. The State Entity Program makes competitive grants to statewide entities, including state educational agencies (SEAs) and charter support organizations (CSOs), which then make subgrants within their states to open new charter schools or replicate or expand existing charter schools.
Once the rules were final last year, the Department can’t make changes without proposing them again for comment. As a result, the application requirements are the same as for the 2022 competition with a few key differences where they are permitted to make adjustments: in funding and points. Here’s what you need to know about the 2023 competition:
- Estimated available funds: $173,000,000
- Estimated range of awards: $2,000,000 to $20,000,000
- Estimated average size of awards: $8,000,000
- Estimated number of awards: 8-10
- Applications due: June 5, 2023
Key differences from 2022:
- Maximum allowed subgrant amount increased to $2,000,000 from $1,500,000 in previous years.
- States have 75 days apply, compared to the dramatically truncated 30-day application period from the 2022 competition. This will allow applicants time to thoughtfully respond to the complex requirements of this grant, especially to the new priorities and requirements under the new rules.
- The application requirements are the same as for the 2022 competition, with a few shifts in how points are awarded for competitive preference priorities. Points for states that use best practices from charter schools to improve struggling schools and local education agencies (LEAs) have increased from 1 to 2. Meanwhile, points for states with supportive charter school facilities policies decreased from 3 to 2.
- One of the most problematic components of the new CSP rules was a priority for applicants that propose collaboration between charter schools and the local district. As for the 2022 competition, the Department is not requiring applicants to partner with local districts. The priority is only being used as an invitational priority, which means that it doesn’t add any extra points or otherwise impact an applicant’s likelihood of receiving a grant. The National Alliance supports it remaining an invitational priority.
- The Department also resolved an eligibility issue that has prevented a consistent pipeline of funds in certain states in recent years. The National Alliance has advocated for clarification that states are eligible to apply for new grants once all funds from the previous grant have been obligated. In a win for the charter school community, for the 2023 competition, the Department has clarified that states in which current grantees will obligate all their funds before the end of the current budget year or have received a waiver to obligate them with additional time will be eligible to apply.
Learn more about the 2023 State Entity competition and check out the pre-application webinars on the competition webpage.