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Two Alabama charter school programs awarded $1.5M each

By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Two public charter school groups in Alabama will each receive $1.5 million to help start new charter schools in the state as part of a grant competition from New Schools Alabama.

The Montgomery Education Foundation and i3 Academy in Birmingham were the recipients of this year’s awards. Each organization will receive a three year grant totaling $1.5 million.

New Schools for Alabama Executive Director, Tyler Barnett said in a press release that this funding will help the new charter schools be successful in serving its students.

“We are really excited to support these two schools in such a substantial way,” Barnett said. “Both applicant groups scored highly on their written applications and demonstrated tremendous capacity to deliver great results for kids in Alabama.

“This funding provides the resources they need to ensure that they can deliver on the promises in their applications and offer a new, excellent educational opportunity for students.”

The Montgomery Education Foundation is in the process of starting three conversion charter schools, which take existing schools along with student population and operate them under new leadership and rules meant to encourage improvement.

The Montgomery County Board of Education in November approved the conversion of Davis Elementary, Nixon Elementary and Bellingrath High School. According to the contract, the schools would be converted gradually, with Davis Elementary going first.

i3 Academy is a start-up charter school locating in the former First Baptist Church in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Birmingham. According to the school’s website, it is designed to educate 420 students in grades K-5, which will be enrolled via a lottery under the state’s charter schools law. Additional support for academics and social-emotional learning as well as an extended school day are some of the differences i3 Academy will offer.

Funding for the grant competition was made possible by a $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education awarded to New Schools for Alabama to help start 15 new high-quality charter schools over the next five years. The new charter schools are meant to serve populations that are made up of 60% or greater of those who are economically disadvantaged.

In this grant cycle, New Schools for Alabama received four applications. Non-recipients remain eligible to apply in each cycle until the school opens and are encouraged to do so. New Schools for Alabama plans to release applications for the next cycle in the spring of 2020.

New Schools for Alabama, originally known as the Alabama Coalition for Public Charter Schools, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focused on supporting the growth of excellent charter schools in Alabama.

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