New and Upcoming Funding Opportunities for Public Charter Schools

  • This week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) announced a $116 million grant competition focused on starting up new, high-quality charter schools via a State Education Agency (SEA) competition for the first time since 2011. We anticipate awarding these SEA grants in September 2015.
  • In the coming weeks, we will announce another grant competition to support the start-up of new charter schools via the “non-SEA” competition. These funds are for charter schools in states that don’t have existing—or do not win new—SEA grants. We anticipate awarding these non-SEA grants in fall 2015—after September 2015.
  • This timeline allows charter school operators that intend to open new schools in the 2016–17 school year to apply for federal start-up funding sufficiently in advance of those school openings—either via the SEA or the non-SEA grant competition. Even if a charter school operator’s SEA plans to submit an SEA grant application this year, interested charter school operators in those states may wish to apply for a non-SEA grant in order to maximize their odds of receiving funding in advance of the 2016–17 school year.
  • Please visit to learn more.

More Details Below:

SEA Competition: This year’s SEA competition is focused on supporting high-quality charter schools, public accountability and oversight for charter school authorizers, and educationally disadvantaged students. We also give a preference to states that have not previously received an SEA grant.

Non-SEA Competition: Later this summer, we will announce a competition to support new charter schools in states that do not have an existing SEA grant AND that do not win a new SEA grant this year. Charter schools in states that meet these parameters may receive grants for planning, program design, and dissemination of best practices and lessons learned.

Timing and Planning: We expect to award new SEA grants by September 30, 2015 and non-SEA grants by December 31, 2015. The non-SEA competition will open, however, before we award new SEA grants. As such, non-SEA applicants may, in some cases, submit applications to the non-SEA competition and then not be eligible for those grants if their state is awarded an SEA grant.

This timeline, while not ideal, enables non-SEA awards to be made as early as possible, helping schools to properly plan for the 2016–17 school year. Charter schools that apply for a non-SEA grant in states that receive 2015 SEA grants will likely be able to repurpose significant parts of their applications for a subgrant application to their SEAs.

Am I Eligible to Apply for a Non-SEA Grant?

Charter school operators located in California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island or South Carolina (states that currently have SEA grants): Ineligible for a non-SEA grant, but may be eligible for an SEA subgrant. Please contact your SEA for more information.

Charter school operators located in every other state: You may be eligible to begin and submit an application for the non-SEA grant competition once it opens. Applicants will be ineligible to receive an award if their state receives a 2015 SEA grant, but may be eligible for an SEA subgrant.