Walton Family Foundation Invests $15 Million in California's Public Charter Schools to Expand Parental Choice

Aug 23, 2011, 10:56 ET from Walton Family Foundation

Investment expected to allow 100,000 additional students to attend quality charter schools over next three years

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Aug. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Walton Family Foundation announced today that it is investing $15 million in the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) with the goal of giving 100,000 additional children the ability to attend a high-quality public charter school over the next three years. The grant is the largest single investment made by the foundation to a state charter school association and is based on CCSA's proven track record of expanding parental choice in California. The Walton Family Foundation invests in programs and organizations that expand parental choice and equal opportunity in education.

"We are honored to receive this investment from the Walton Family Foundation, and we appreciate the foundation's trust in our efforts to reinvent public education in California," said Jed Wallace, president and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA).  "This is an exciting time for our charter school movement as we continue to collectively pursue an aggressive accountability and advocacy agenda that supports the accelerated growth of high quality educational options for students.  And we are seeing great success as a result of the support of partners like the Walton Family Foundation."

The investment also has a particular focus on expanding parental access to charter schools in Los Angeles, one of the Walton Family Foundation's seven target districts nationally  and an area where charter schools are positively impacting the broader school system. The foundation's investment will help CCSA foster the creation of 20,000 additional seats in high-quality charter schools in Los Angeles. The other six target districts for the foundation include: Albany, NY; Denver, CO; Milwaukee, WI; Newark, NJ; New Orleans, LA; and Washington, D.C.

"The Walton Family Foundation is investing in CCSA due to its effectiveness at helping expand the right of parents to choose quality charter schools for their children, as well as CCSA's success in pursuing state and local policies that seek to increase public charter school funding to levels comparable to traditional public schools," said Jim Blew, who leads the foundation's K-12 Education Reform efforts. "With this investment, the foundation will assist the California charter school movement in an effort to give 100,000 new children the opportunity to attend a quality charter school. The foundation will continue to support organizations like CCSA across the country that expand access to quality charter schools and inspire all public schools to improve."

The foundation is increasing its investment in California's charter schools due to the movement's strong growth, robust demand from families, continuing improvements in charter school performance and a commitment from CCSA to work toward the closure of chronically low-performing charter schools.

The foundation has invested $17.9 million in CCSA since its inception in 2003. During this time, more than 600 new charter schools have been created, allowing 200,000 additional students and their families to choose to enroll in a public charter school in California. This single investment nearly equals all previous Walton Family Foundation giving to CCSA since its inception.

Over the past five years, the Walton Family Foundation has invested more than $46 million in state charter school associations with annual investments growing from $5.6 million in 2006 to more than $14 million for 18 state associations in 2010.

About the Walton Family Foundation

Driven by the urgent need to dramatically raise student achievement, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, the Walton Family Foundation has invested more than $1 billion to date in initiatives that expand parental choice and equal opportunity in education. Empowering parents to choose quality schools, regardless of type - traditional public, private or public charter school - will help spur the bold transformation of our national K-12 system of public education. Our nation's children will only reach their potential in today's global economy by having access to a high-quality, publicly funded education. Visit the foundation at www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org.

About the California Charter Schools Association

The California Charter Schools Association is the membership and professional organization serving 912 charter public schools and more than 365,000 students in the state of California.  The Vision of the California Charter Schools Association is to usher in a new era in public education so all students attend independent, innovative, accountable schools of choice.  The Mission of the California Charter Schools Association is to influence the legislative and policy environments, leverage collective advocacy, and provide resources to support our members in developing and operating high quality charter schools reflective of California's student population.  For more information, please visit www.calcharters.org.

SOURCE Walton Family Foundation