Over our history, TRF has invested more than $295 million in 111 education providers that enroll more than 50,000 students from Pre-K through high school. The majority of students enrolled in these schools qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch. From quality Head Start centers throughout New Jersey to a charter high school in Philadelphia that uses the environment as the context for learning, TRF invests in innovative and effective programs.
When TRF made its first investment in early childhood education provider Children’s Village in 2001, the organization couldn’t even get a line of credit. As Executive Director Mary Graham put it, “What would we have used for collateral? Crayons?” But since its founding in 1976 to serve Philadelphia’s garment workers, Children’s Village has provided high quality care and education to underserved children and was an early leader in promoting health education and nutrition programming. Most recently, TRF provided contingency financing for cost overruns that Children’s Village incurred during a long-awaited kitchen renovation project. The new kitchen is now operational and will serve more than 230,000 healthy meals and snacks to 420 children every year.
There are still not enough places like Children’s Village in Philadelphia, and expanding quality options remains challenging for providers. Now, with support from the William Penn Foundation, TRF and the Public Health Management Corporation are offering a new source of capital and planning services dedicated to high-quality providers who will expand their programming to more low-income children in underserved areas. The Fund for Quality is a $7 million, three-year, first-of-its-kind local initiative.
Our track record of financing quality programs earned TRF several awards in the past year, including a $6 million credit enhancement grant from the U.S. Department of Education, which will support high-quality charter schools throughout the mid-Atlantic.
Wissahickon Charter School is a Philadelphia school that uses the environment as an integrating theme for K-8 instruction. TRF financed leasehold improvement for the school’s first building in 2002 at a time when no other lender was willing to loan the school money, which helped transform an old warehouse into a beautiful educational space. TRF also supported the school’s expansion to middle school grades in 2006. In 2013, TRF led a $16 million NMTC financing for the construction of a second campus. The new facility is located on a reclaimed brownfield site, adjacent to the 55-acre Awbury Arboretum, which will function as an outdoor classroom. The second campus will serve 478 children, increasing the school’s total enrollment to 956 students between two sites.
PolicyMap is now in use by 44 university libraries across the country, which are making all of its advanced features available to faculty and students for free. Subscribers include the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, University of California Berkeley and New York University. Jessica Deegan from the University of Minnesota’s College of Design teaches a housing analysis class focusing on Geographic Information Systems. She explains, “While I teach ArcGIS in the class, I find that one introductory semester in GIS doesn't stick with the students, so having a platform that's as robust as PolicyMap at their fingertips is more empowering to them from a research perspective.
TRF financed its first school in Baltimore in 2008, and since then has invested more than $15.5 million in schools throughout the city. Last year, TRF provided our second loan to Tunbridge Public Charter School, dedicated to the health and wellness of Baltimore’s youth, for its expansion to middle school grades. Monarch Academy Charter School received energy-efficiency financing from TRF as part of an $8.9 million acquisition and renovation project that transformed a 91,000-square-foot former Coca-Cola bottling plant into a school building with 45 classrooms, a gymnasium, cafeteria, kitchen, and library. And, start-up school, Creative City Public Charter School, received funds for leasehold improvements. Founded by a group of parents and educators, Creative City is Baltimore’s first charter school dedicated to place-based education using the city’s natural and built environment, history, and culture to teach through group projects. Together, these three schools will serve more than 1,500 children each year.