5 new charter schools to get $10.5M in grants

The Philadelphia School Partnership announced Wednesday that it was awarding nearly $10.5 million to help charter school operators open five schools in the fall and expand them later.

The School Reform Commission approved the schools earlier this year. The operators that received the grants currently have other high-achieving schools in the city.

"These schools have helped to narrow achievement gaps for thousands of students in Philadelphia," said Jessica Peña, director of the partnership's Great Schools Fund, which made the awards.

"We are pleased to support their expansion and provide educational opportunity for nearly 4,000 additional students and their families," she said in a statement.

The fund made the following grant awards:

Mastery Gillespie Charter School, $3.3 million. When fully enrolled, the school in North Philadelphia will have 588 students in kindergarten through sixth grade and serve as a feeder school for Mastery's Prep Middle and Gratz High campus.

KIPP West Philadelphia Elementary Academy, $1.6 million to launch the elementary charter school that will enroll 375 students.

TECH Freire High School, $1.9 million. The school is slated to open in North Philadelphia in the fall with 300 students and grow to 580 in grades 9-12.

MaST Community Charter School II, $1.9 million. MaST will use the money to open a second campus in the Lower Northeast. The charter will have 400 students in kindergarten through third grade in the fall and expand to 1,250 students in kindergarten through grade 12 by 2023.

Independence Charter West, $1.7 million to open a new K-8 campus in Southwest Philadelphia for students in West and Southwest Philadelphia neighborhoods. It will begin with 300 K-3 students in the fall and later grow to 900 K-8 students.

In addition, the partnership announced smaller grants to help three other operators apply to open new schools:

$79,000 to Folk Arts Charter School for a new, larger K-8 school;

$77,000 to Russell Byers Charter School for a 6-8 middle school;

$35,000 to Global Leadership Academy for a new high school.

Hearings on new charter applications are scheduled to begin Monday, and the SRC expects to vote on them in February.

Founded in 2010, the Philadelphia School Partnership set a goal of raising $100 million to ensure more city students have access to high-quality schools. The Great Schools Fund aims to add 35,000 seats in successful public, charter, and Catholic schools by 2016-17.

Its funding comes from a variety of sources, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and the William Penn Foundation.

martha.woodall@phillynews.com 215-854-2789 @marwooda