November 23, 2020 11:06 am

Charter Schools Take Between $1-2 Billion In PPP Covid Funds. ACT NOW.

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When the SBA released the database of which businesses and nonprofits received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding, our NPE team immediately began scouring the list to find which charter schools took funding, despite continuing to receive a secure funding stream from taxpayers. The amount that we have identified to date is staggering. Charter schools and their nonprofit or for-profit management companies secured between $ 926 million and $2.2 billion in funding through the Small Business Administration (SBA) program. We can only provide a range because the SBA chose not to report the exact amounts of the forgivable loans; however, if we assume that overall the sector received the average, that amount totals approximately $1.5 billion. You can see that list below.  

Here are some highlights of what we found. 

  • California has the most charter schools in the nation. Even so, its charter sector received a disproportionately large amount of PPP funding—which may be as high as a half-billion dollars. Four hundred eighteen charter organizations received loan money totaling between $232.5 million and $545.9 million. 
  • New York State charters received between $126,000,000 and $293,200,000 — even as local businesses were going belly up due to a lack of revenue during the high point of the pandemic.  
  • Beside California and New York, two other states’ charter sectors received high-end range PPP funding in excess of $100 million: Florida ($152,800,000) and Louisiana ($107,450,000). An additional three states’ charter sector received up to $80 million or more: Arizona ($99,400,000); Pennsylvania ($85,050,000) and Texas ($81,150,000).  
  • Learn4Life is a charter school chain claiming 80 campuses in California enrolling nearly 40,000 students. Learn4Life schools received as much as $51.7 million in PPP funds—more than the total amount received by the entire charter sectors in the majority of states. 
  • Twenty-one organizations related to the KIPP charter chain have in total received an amount at the high end of the range of $68,700,000, more than the high end of the charter sector in 42 states. 
  • The for-profit CMO, Academica, runs charter schools in seven states. High range amounts for Academica and its schools produce a total of $35.7 million tax dollars. 
  • We found 17 nonprofit organizations that support charter schools (or advocated for charters receiving PPP funding) receiving that funding themselves—in total receiving between $6.3 and $14.8 million.  

We know that despite our best efforts there are grantees we missed. If you know of a charter school or charter CMO that received PPP not on our list, please send its name and proof to us and we will update our list.  

Now it’s time to take action.

Tell Congress to make sure these loans are immediately paid back. Employees of our small businesses desperately need the money. It is time to support our families, not “flush up” the fund balances of charter schools.

In the Media

Charter schools and their management companies won at least $925 million in federal coronavirus funding, data shows

On May 13, Washington Post reporter Perry Stein reported that some Washington, D.C., charter schools had been receiving funds from the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), although all of their taxpayer revenue continued to flow. By June 15, the New York Times’s Erica L. Green also wrote a story about how charter schools, some of which had billionaire backers, had been applying for and getting PPP money. Before long, local news agencies picked up on the story, questioning why schools that received public funding were tapping into the SBA program.

Unknown at the time was the national scope of the use of PPP funds by charters. Therefore, the Network for Public Education decided to scour the list of PPP recipients disclosed by the SBA and create lists by state of the charter schools and their management organizations that had received funding.

Read the full article here.

Charter Schools, Some With Billionaire Benefactors, Tap Coronavirus Relief

Charter schools, including some with healthy cash balances and billionaire backers like Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates, have quietly accepted millions of dollars in emergency coronavirus relief from a fund created to help struggling small businesses stay afloat.

Since their inception, charter schools have straddled the line between public schools and private entities. The coronavirus has forced them to choose.

Read the full article here.

Charter schools’ public funding is still flowing, but some say they still need federal aid

D.C. charter schools received federal aid intended to keep nonprofits and small businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, drawing criticism from public school advocates and others who say the money should be reserved for businesses hit harder by the crisis’s economic toll.

It is unclear exactly how many applied for the money. Officials across the District’s expansive charter sector — 63 operators that educate almost half of the city’s 100,000 public school students — have largely remained quiet about which schools have received help from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

Read the full article here.

Small business aid money sent to charter schools draws scrutiny

A Beyond the Books investigation calculates a total of $7.9 million in federal Paycheck Protection Act funding was received by Utah charter schools. Charter schools annually receive state and federal funding, while the PPP program is intended to help small businesses to retain employees and keep people on the payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But because many charter schools are set up as non-profits, or have private management companies that qualify as small businesses, the federal virus aid money was available and awarded. That funding isn’t available to traditional public school districts.

Watch the full story here.

125 Florida charter schools already funded by taxpayers received $50 million in PPP loans

Charter schools in Florida received millions of dollars in loans intended to help small businesses avoid laying off workers.

While it isn’t illegal, I-Team Investigator Adam Walser has uncovered these schools are double-dipping from taxpayers, and a local Congressman now wants them to pay the money back.

Watch the full story here.

Arizona charter schools scored up to $100 million in PPP funds. That’s just ridiculous

As Congress considers the next economic stimulus package, it’s worth mentioning that America’s charter schools snagged at least $925 million in emergency funding from the Paycheck Protection Program, according to an analysis by Network for Public Education.

In Arizona, 100 charter school operations bagged anywhere from $40 million to nearly $100 million in emergency funding, the analysis of U.S. Small Business Administration records shows.

Read the full article here.

Controversy follows receipt of Paycheck Protection Program funds by public charter schools

At least 50 North Carolina charter schools received money from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, created to help small businesses and nonprofits stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because some charter schools also received COVID-19 relief money through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, critics have accused them of inappropriate “double-dipping.”

Read the full article here.