Jackson, MS— The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Mississippi First a $19.3 million, five-year Charter Schools Program grant to grow high-quality public charter schools in Mississippi. Charter schools are free, public, and open to all students in an eligible grade who reside in an eligible geography. The Charter Schools Program (CSP) is a competitive, national grant program eligible to state entities. Through this program, Mississippi First will subgrant 90% of funds to eligible charter school applicants to open new charter schools and/or to replicate or expand high-quality charter schools. Mississippi First is one of six organizations nationally awarded this grant, and it will have a significant impact on the future of public charter schools in Mississippi.

Rachel Canter, the Executive Director of Mississippi First, said, “We are thrilled to support the creation and growth of high-quality public charter schools through this grant opportunity. These funds will allow Mississippi First to provide subgrants directly to new or expanding high-quality schools as well as to provide technical assistance to schools and their authorizer to improve quality. All children deserve great public schools, no matter their circumstances, and we are excited to expand our charter work to ensure an excellent education for every Mississippi child.”

Since the passage of the Mississippi Charter Schools Act of 2013, the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board (MCSAB), the state agency responsible for approving charter school applicants, has approved 11 charter schools: eight are operating as of the 2022-2023 school year, two are expected to open in 2023-2024, and the last is expected to open in 2025-2026. This grant will support a doubling of the number of approved, high-quality schools. Mississippi students deserve the opportunity to receive a high-quality public education regardless of where they live.

Additional Information about Public Charter Schools
Charter schools are free, public, and open to all students in an eligible grade who reside in an eligible geography. Charter school applicants undergo an approval process with the MSCAB to be approved to operate; this approval process also grants charter schools state accreditation. The charter describes the school’s rights and responsibilities and binds it to goals for its academic, financial, and organizational performance. Charter schools must meet these goals to continue to operate annually and to be renewed at least every five years. In exchange for that accountability, the schools receive flexibility to innovate in areas like curriculum or schedules. Over 2,000 students in Jackson, Clarksdale, and Greenwood, Mississippi, receive their public education from a Mississippi public charter school.


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    Monica Cannon-Butler on October 4, 2022

    This great news for public education.

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