Nonprofit to invest $2.2 million in R.I. charter school expansion
PBN FILE PHOTO/STEPHANIE ALVAREZ EWENS
THANKS TO A $2.2 MILLION investment from the Charter School Growth Fund, the Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy's plans to expand are more likely to happen. Pictured is the school's executive director, Jeremy Chiappetta, the summer before the organization's first school opened in Cumberland.
CUMBERLAND - A Colorado-based nonprofit on Wednesday said it will invest $2.2 million to support the expansion of Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy’s network of charter schools in Rhode Island.
Founded in 2009, Blackstone Valley is the first Rhode Island-based charter organization to receive an investment from the Charter School Growth Fund. Blackstone currently operates three Rhode Island Mayoral Academy charter schools serving nearly 1,000 students from Lincoln, Cumberland, Central Falls and Pawtucket. It hopes to grow to seven schools in the network by 2018 and plans to open its first high school in the state next fall.
Blackstone’s expansion plans, which have not been detailed publicly, have reportedly raised concerns among some members of the state Board of Education, which last summer voted to renew the school’s charter.
“We strive to provide a high-quality college preparatory education for our diverse student body, and this investment will help us meet the demand from Rhode Island families,” Jeremy Chiappetta, executive director of Blackstone Valley Prep, said in a release.
According to Kevin Hall, CEO of the Charter School Growth Fund, “Blackstone Valley Prep is a proof point for a racially and economically diverse school that is producing exceptional academic results.”
BVP’s flagship elementary school in Cumberland was recently named a “commended” school by the R.I. Department of Education based on its achievement scores, which put it in the top 9 percent of schools statewide. In 2012, Blackstone’s elementary and middle school students outperformed the state average in mathematics on Rhode Island’s achievement tests, according to CSGF.
An estimated 63 percent of Blackstone students are eligible for the federal free- and reduced-price meals program, compared with 46 percent statewide.
The Charter School Growth Fund says it invests philanthropic dollars in the nation's highest-performing charter school operators to help them open additional schools. Over the last eight years, CSGF has provided funding to 40 charter school networks that operate more than 400 schools and serve nearly 160,000 students nationally.
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