Reinvestment Fund is providing long-term financing to support the Gary Comer College Prep High School in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.
Gary Comer College Prep High School (GCCP High School) was founded by the Comer Science and Education Foundation, which was established by Gary Comer, a philanthropist and founder of Lands’ End who grew up in Greater Grand Crossing. With a mission is to improve urban education and the lives of children, the Foundation opened in 2006 with the founding of the Gary Comer Youth Center in the neighborhood. The Youth Center provides support for students to graduate from high school, prepared to pursue college and careers.
Recognizing an opportunity to bring a better high school option for local families, in 2008, the Foundation partnered with Noble Network of Charter Schools (Noble) to do just that. Noble is a high performing charter network and was the winner of the 2015 Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools, an annual award that honors the large public charter school system serving low-income students and students of color that has the best overall performance in the country.
GCCP High School was Noble’s first campus on Chicago’s South Side. The GCCP High School started in 2008 with one class of freshman, grew by one grade per year and in the 2015-2016 school year, graduated its fifth class of seniors. In 2011, Noble was approved to expand to serve middle school grades that would feed into the high school. Its middle school program occupies leased, shared space in the nearby district school building, Paul Revere School.
The middle school currently serves 350 students in grade 6-8 and the high school serves 740 students. Both the high school and middle school program benefit from the use of the adjacent Youth Center. At the GCCP High School, 94% of students qualify for free or reduced price lunch, 96% of students are African American, and 4% are Hispanic.
Reinvestment Fund’s loan is refinancing debt associated with a New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) transaction, which reached the end of its compliance period in December 2016. Reinvestment Fund is financing the permanent loan with capital from the CDFI Bond Guaranty Program (BGP). The Foundation is investing $1.4 million in the project with capital from Northern Trust to complete the capital stack.