MILWAUKEE--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Andre Agassi, Bobby Turner and other representatives from the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund (CACSFF) joined leaders from Rocketship Education today to celebrate the opening of its first charter school in Milwaukee, Rocketship Southside Community Prep.
“We’re grateful for our partnership with CACSFF for helping us build this incredible building within the Layton Park neighborhood and create another community center where our Rocketeers, families, and entire Southside Prep team will thrive.”
Located in Milwaukee’s Layton Park neighborhood, Rocketship Southside Community Prep serves 300 students from K4 to fourth grade, and will grow to 650 students through fifth grade by 2015. The modern, 37,000-square-foot facility is an adaptive reuse of a 1920s-era commercial building acquired and converted by CACSFF, as well as 10,000 square feet of new construction.
The project marks the first partnership between Rocketship Education and CACSFF, an innovative investment fund that provides much-needed capital to top charter school operators, allowing them to acquire high-quality school facilities.
Rocketship Education is a network of public charter schools serving primarily low-income students in neighborhoods where access to excellent schools is limited. The Rocketship Model combines teacher development, parent engagement and personalized learning to enhance instruction and help close the achievement gap. Rocketship operates eight schools in San Jose, Calif., where it has become one of the state’s highest performing low-income school systems. Rocketship Southside Community Prep is the network’s first national expansion site.
“Rocketship Education exemplifies the kind of proven, effective charter school operator that we set out to support through this fund,” said Bobby Turner, CACSFF co-managing partner and chairman and CEO of Canyon Capital Realty Advisors. “High-achieving charter schools are a bright spot in our educational landscape, providing hope and opportunity for students with tremendous promise. Having access to great school facilities will help these young people reach their full potential.”
The only fund of its kind, CACSFF was created in 2011 as a joint venture between Canyon Capital Realty Advisors (CCRA) and Agassi Ventures (AV) to facilitate the development of school sites in urban communities across the United States.
The partnership combines CCRA’s and AV’s substantial resources, development expertise and passion for educational excellence to help charter schools secure academically friendly, environmentally sustainable school facilities for students and teachers. Charter schools are growing rapidly across the country, and operators routinely cite securing suitable learning facilities as one of their greatest challenges.
Another CACSFF investment in Milwaukee, North Point Lighthouse Charter School, opened in the Thurston Woods neighborhood last year. Other previous investments include KIPP Philadelphia Elementary Academy in Philadelphia and EAGLE College Preparatory Schools’ Harmony campus in Phoenix.
“Again and again, I see how transformative a great school can be in a young person’s life. By helping proven educators secure top-quality learning facilities, we’re allowing great schools to flourish in Milwaukee and all over the country,” said Andre Agassi, CACSFF co-managing partner, CEO of Agassi Ventures and founder of the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy. “These students and these communities deserve nothing less.”
Founded in 2006, Rocketship Education relies on a blend of traditional instruction, adaptive technology and targeted tutoring to meet the needs of every student, known as “Rocketeers.” Today, Rocketship serves more than 5,000 students, with plans to serve more communities across the country in the years ahead.
"The Rocketship team is thrilled to open our ninth school, and our first national expansion site, here in Milwaukee – a city with a strong tradition of supporting excellent charter schools,” said Preston Smith, Rocketship’s CEO and co-founder. “We’re grateful for our partnership with CACSFF for helping us build this incredible building within the Layton Park neighborhood and create another community center where our Rocketeers, families, and entire Southside Prep team will thrive.”
Rocketship Southside Community Prep opened its doors to students on Aug. 19, 2013, and features 18 classrooms along with administrative offices, cafeteria, parent room, outdoor playground and gym. The school is one of 18 CACSFF schools opening this fall on 11 campuses; others are in Detroit, Dallas, San Jose, Newark, Las Vegas, two communities in Indianapolis, and three communities in Florida. Over the next three years, CACSFF aims to provide educational opportunities for 30,000 additional underserved students in urban areas across the country.
The fund has the backing of a world-class group of institutional investors who share CACSFF’s commitment to effecting positive societal change while pursuing fair financial returns.
In addition to providing high-quality facilities at affordable lease rates, the fund enables charter school operators to purchase their schools once they reach full occupancy. CACSFF will help operators obtain permanent financing to purchase their properties using New Market Tax Credits, tax-exempt bond offerings, or funding from the U.S. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund.
“CACSFF represents a new and innovative approach to socially responsible investing. By creating a sustainable, market-driven investment vehicle that also benefits schools, students and families, we have brought socially responsible investing a major step forward,” said CACSFF CEO Glenn Pierce. “We’re proud to be celebrating our latest school investment, and look forward to more openings this fall and over the years to come.”
About Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund
The Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund is the nation’s first market-driven real estate fund designed to accelerate growth of high-performing charter schools and provide educational opportunities for tens of thousands of underserved students while simultaneously targeting market-rate financial returns for socially responsible investors. The Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund is managed by Canyon-Agassi Realty Advisors, and is a partnership between an affiliate of Canyon Capital Realty Advisors LLC and Agassi Ventures, LLC. For more information, visit www.canyonagassi.com
About Rocketship Education
Rocketship Education (www.rsed.org) was founded in 2006 as the first elementary blended school model in the country, and has become both the highest growth charter school system in the country and one of the highest performing low-income school systems in California. Rocketship creates transformative schools using the Rocketship Model, which combines teacher development, parent engagement and personalized learning to improve student achievement. Rocketship is rethinking elementary school from the ground up, with the bold mission to eliminate the achievement gap across the United States in our lifetime. Rocketship currently serves over 5,000 students across nine schools in San Jose and Milwaukee.