Two more organizations apply to become Florida ‘Schools of Hope’ operators

Travis Pillow

The organization helping launch a new KIPP school in Miami and a charter school network praised for boosting civic engagement have applied to become Florida’s two newest “Schools of Hope” operators.

The state Board of Education will consider their applications when it meets next week in Pinellas County. Board documents show both KIPP New Jersey and Democracy Prep Public Schools meet the criteria for the program.

KIPP New Jersey is working with Miami-Dade Public Schools to create a first-of-its-kind collaboration in Liberty City, a high-poverty Miami neighborhood where then-future-Gov. Jeb Bush helped launch Florida’s charter school movement in the mid-’90s. It qualifies, in part, because it received funding from the Charter School Growth Fund.

Democracy Prep operates charter schools in four states, including New York and Louisiana. A recent study showed students who left its schools were significantly more likely to vote once they turned 18. It qualifies, in part, because it received funding from the U.S. Department of Education to expand high-quality charter schools.

Both charter school organizations note the vast majority of their students — roughly 90 percent at KIPP and 85 percent at Democracy Prep — are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

If approved, the two organizations would join IDEA Public Schools and Somerset Academy as Hope Operators. The status allows them to receive low-cost facilities loans, grants and streamlined charter applications if they seek to open schools in the vicinity of persistently struggling public schools.

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