Denver-based University Prep charter school network wins federal grant, opening up opportunities for expansion



University Prep, which operates two elementary schools in Denver, was Colorado’s sole recipient in a series of charter school growth grants.

September 29, 2017, 11:05

Through Eric Gorski, Chalk beat

Denver charter school operator University Prep won a federal grant of nearly $ 1.4 million this year as part of a US Department of Education program that helps fund the expansion and replication of successful charter schools.

University Prep, which operates two elementary schools in Denver, was Colorado’s sole recipient in a series of charter school growth grants announced Thursday.

The education department has recommended that University Prep receive a total of $ 3.7 million under the program, subject to congressional approval in the coming years.

With a predominantly Latino, low-income student body, University Prep opened its first campus, on Arapahoe Street, just north of downtown, in 2010. Last year, its fourth and fifth graders outperformed average. of the district in English and mathematics. testing.

In 2016, University Prep embarked on a formidable recovery effort, picking up on the failed Pioneer Charter School in northeast Denver. In last spring’s state math tests, students at Prep Steele Street University had the highest growth scores in Colorado.

Earlier this year, University Prep founder David Singer joined three other charter leaders in writing an open letter to Denver Public Schools ask district leaders to let them open more new schools in the coming years to help meet ambitious school improvement goals in the city.

The Denver School Board last spring signed four new elementary college preparation schools. This does not guarantee, however, that schools will open. Competition for neighborhood real estate is fierce, and the DPS has seen stable or declining listings in parts of the city.

The grant, however, does not specify where University Prep would expand, leaving open the possibility that it could bring its model to other school districts in need. The grants program is designed to “expand opportunities for all students, especially traditionally underserved students”.

Singer said Thursday that University Prep remains committed to Denver and will also be open to expansion into other communities.

“The grant is an opportunity for us to engage with families and communities in ongoing recovery efforts in metro Denver,” he said.

Other high-performing college readiness charters that started in Denver have opened schools in other districts or plan to do so, including DSST and Rocky Mountain Prep.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a school choice champion, advocating for an expansion of charter schools and vouchers that allow taxpayer dollars to go to private school tuition. DeVos both praised Denver Public Schools for being supportive of choice and criticized the district for not doing enough.

Chalk beat is a non-profit news site covering educational change in public schools.



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