Laura and John Arnold Foundation announces $25 million investment to support high-performing charter schools in New Orleans

HOUSTON, TX—The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) today announced a new $25 million investment designed to help create and expand high-performing charter schools in New Orleans, resulting in more high-quality opportunities over the next five years for nearly 15,000 students currently attending low-performing schools. LJAF’s funding, following the significant progress to date in the city’s education system, is driven by the need to ensure that every public school student in New Orleans has access to at least one high-quality public educational option.

“High-quality public charter schools have changed the landscape of public education in New Orleans,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “We’ve made tremendous gains over the last few years and this investment will help us build on that momentum and support our city’s public education system. With support from organizations like the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, we have the opportunity to open doors of opportunity for even more students and ensure that our children get the excellent education they deserve.”

This initiative will be managed through a partnership between New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) and the Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF). NSNO will work to expand existing high-performing charter schools in New Orleans, and CSGF will review applications from proven, high-performing charter management networks that serve low-income students and are seeking to expand in New Orleans.

“Every child deserves to have an excellent public school education,” said Caprice Young, Vice President of Education at LJAF. “Through this investment, we will be able to provide the resources and support that are needed to improve the overall quality of public education in New Orleans.”

According to the Louisiana Department of Education, 83 percent of New Orleans schools were failing in 2005. Due to the committed efforts of educators, the local community, and philanthropic support, along with students and parents, the percentage of failing schools in New Orleans has decreased by nearly 40 percent. While there has been tremendous progress, approximately 16,000 New Orleans students are still in schools that fail to reach the state’s minimum academic performance benchmark. LJAF’s investment will accelerate the progress of the last seven years.

“Orleans Parish and the Recovery School District have led the state in growth since 2008,” said Stan Smith, Interim Superintendent of the Orleans Parish School Board. “With the support of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, this investment will allow us to continue on the path toward great school options for every student in the city.”

“We are proud of the progress that we have made in New Orleans, but recognize that we still have work to do to ensure that our public education system is of high quality across all schools,” said Patrick Dobard, Superintendent of the Recovery School District. “This investment and the support of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation will allow us to do what is needed to continue to improve opportunities for every student in New Orleans.”

This is the second major investment announced by LJAF, as part of a multi-year commitment to New Orleans, and follows a $15 million investment made in September 2012 to ten education reform organizations in the city. Both investments are designed to ensure that every student in New Orleans has access to a high-quality education choice within the next five years. LJAF’s funding will increase quality school choices for parents, develop excellent educators and expand schools and innovative solutions to ensure that every child has the opportunity to receive an excellent education. LJAF works to raise student achievement in the United States through targeted investments that will create transformational change in public education on a national scale.

About the Laura and John Arnold Foundation
The Laura and John Arnold Foundation is a private foundation that currently focuses its strategic investments in education, criminal justice, public accountability and research integrity. LJAF has offices in Houston and New York City. www.arnoldfoundation.org.
About New Schools for New Orleans
New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and developing the people, resources and environment necessary to deliver on the promise of excellent public schools for every child in New Orleans. Founded in 2006, NSNO is committed to making strategic investments of time, expertise and funding to support the growth of New Orleans’ high-performing system of charter schools. NSNO’s work to support continued student achievement gains citywide is focused on three objectives: serving the city as a strategic leader to maintain focus on academic excellence in a reform-friendly environment; supporting the expansion of high-performing charter schools to serve additional students in collaboration with the community; and partnering with sustainable support organizations to ensure that the academic needs of schools are met as they continue to advance student learning. www.newschoolsforneworleans.org
About Charter School Growth Fund
The Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF) is a nonprofit philanthropic fund that invests in the nation’s highest performing charter school operators to dramatically expand their impact on underserved students. CSGF uses a blind process to evaluate applicants based on their academic and financial track record, readiness to grow and the number of students served from low-income communities. Collectively, the schools CSGF supports serve a student population that is 90 percent minority and 75 percent low-income, with over 90 percent outperforming comparable district schools in both math and reading. www.chartergrowthfund.org

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