CSP Grant Program

About the Charter Schools Program

The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools (PCPCS) is pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) has awarded it an Expanding Opportunities Through Quality Charter School Programs Grant (commonly referred to as a CSP Grant). This grant award will total $30 million over a grant period of five years (2021-25) and will support the development, expansion and replication of 18 high-quality public schools in Pennsylvania. Each school will be a nonprofit, brick-and-mortar charter school whose model and/or track record demonstrate a strong likelihood that they will produce meaningful and sustainable student learning gains. Over the course of the grant, 90% of estimated grant funds goes directly to the subgrantees with 10% reserved for the administrative and technical assistance duties to run the grant program. 

The Pennsylvania Charter Schools Program (PACSP) project will promote two overriding outcomes:

  1. increasing the number of high-quality charter schools that educate substantial at-risk student populations, and
  2. improving student outcomes in PA charter schools, particularly for at-risk students. Both interim and summative performance measures have been set to achieve this long-term impact.


Who is Eligible to Apply? 

Eligible applicants must have an approved charter school petition from a Pennsylvania authorizer in order to apply for Federal CSP dollars under this program. PACSP cannot fund applicants through the charter application process. Grant applicants must conform to the federal definition of a public charter school in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act [P.L. 114-95, section 4310(2)] to be eligible for grant funds under the CSP.

PACSP will follow the federal definition of high-quality charter schools:

  • shows evidence of strong academic results which may include strong student academic growth as determined by the state;
  • has no significant issues in the area of student safety, financial and operational management, or statutory or regulatory compliance;
  • has demonstrated success in significantly increasing student academic achievement, including graduation rates where applicable, for all students served by the charter school; and
  • has demonstrated success in increasing student academic achievement, including graduation rates where applicable, for each of the subgroups of students, as defined in section 1111(c)(2) of the ESSA, except that such demonstration is not required in a case in which the number of students in a group is insufficient to yield statistically reliable information or the results would reveal personally identifiable information about an individual student.

Expanding or Replicating Schools
Those who wish to expand or replicate existing charter schools must meet the ESSA SEC. 4310 (7-9) definitions of expanding, replicating and high quality. Schools that do not meet this definition are not eligible for subgrant funding.

The subgrant application will require many components for prospective subgrantees, including but not limited to:

  • A detailed description of how the school plans to enroll significant numbers of at-risk students and how it plans to provide those students with instructionally rigorous and culturally affirming educational experiences;  
  • In the case of existing operators seeking expansion or replication funding, a disaggregated breakdown of student performance by subgroup at all schools affiliated with the operator in all regions;
  • A detailed budget and budget narrative that explain how subgrant funds will be used to support the opening and preparation for operation of a new, expanded, or replicated school, along with a detailed explanation of how programming will be sustained after the close of the grant period;
  • An organizational chart that depicts how roles and responsibilities will be apportioned among key individuals and entities, including the Board of Trustees, Lead Person, charter management organization, staff, and external partners;
  • A copy of the written charter (see 24 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 17-1720-A) that sets forth the manner in which the school will be held accountable and the flexibilities and autonomies it is afforded as a charter operator;
  • Artifacts that demonstrate the extent to which the applicant has engaged parents and community members during the school planning and design processes, and a detailed plan for soliciting parental and community input on the use of CSP funds; and
  • A description of how the school will work with districts to ensure students receive transportation consistent with the requirements of 24 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 17-1726-A. Lastly, in addition to the informational sections, the application will contain several competitive preference priorities.

Schools will be able to earn additional points upon demonstration that their projects are tightly aligned to the PACSP Logic Model and project objectives. Specifically, applicants will be asked to address the following competitive preference priorities:

  • Providing services in Qualified Opportunity Zones;
  • Providing services to rural communities;
  • Educating high school students;
  • Serving at-risk student populations;
  • Promoting equity and inclusion; and
  • Contributing to the diversity of charter school models in existence across the Commonwealth.

The maximum award size for all subgrantees — regardless of whether they are opening, expanding, or replicating a school — will be $1,500,000. However, only those applicants who educate significant numbers of students in target subgroups, both in proportional and absolute terms, will be eligible to earn the full award.


What can the subgrantee funds be used for?

Some examples of allowable subgrantee expenses include:

  • Planning and program design that does not exceed 18 months
  • One-time costs for the purpose of opening, replicating, or expanding
  • Costs with preparing teachers, school leaders, and specialized instructional support personnel
  • Supplies, training, equipment, and educational materials
  • Renovations for a new school building to comply with applicable statues and regulations (construction is excluded)
  • Community engagement activities

It is expressly prohibited to use CSP grant funds for the purchase or leasing of a facility.

The following items CANNOT be funded under this grant. Any proposed expenditures including the following items will not be funded:

  •  Grant funds may not be used to offset or cover costs of preparing and applying for CSP grant funds
  • Capital expenses, such as remodeling, technology leases, elevators, water main valves, vans, tractors, bobcats, or permanent fixture of equipment/furniture
  •  Professional dues or memberships
  • Employee hiring/recruitment expenses such as a placement firm or travel for prospective employees
  • Non-educational/non-informative promotional/novelty items for advertising, events, or recruiting
  • Grant oversight expenses
  • Costs of continuing education credits for professional development coursework
  • Gift certificates, alcoholic beverages, school apparel for staff or students, fines and penalties, lobbying
  • Food for meetings or any other purposes


When will the application process be?

PACSP will release the RFP for potential subgrantees in February 2021 with a deadline for application submissions in March 2021. Applications will be reviewed in March and April and subgrantee awards will be announced in May.

For more information on the CSP Program, contact Brandie Karpew, PCPCS Director of Operations and Development and CSP Co-Director at b.karpew@pacharters.org. To view a copy of the proposal submitted to the US Department of Education please click here.   

The contents of this page were developed under a Charter Schools Program (CSP) grant awarded to the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools by the U.S. Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.