The joy of learning is evident everywhere at northeast Baltimore’s City Neighbors Charter School (CNCS), from the colorful student artwork that lines its hallways to the cozy reading nooks peppered across its topmost floor.
But it is most apparent in the unbridled commitment and enthusiasm the school’s leadership brings to the school and its students. Together with staff, they have created a school culture that inspires creativity and a strong sense of community. Exceptional test scores and the recent renewal of its charter for another five years are testaments to the school’s success.
CNCS was one of the city’s first charter schools and has since grown to serve 200 students in grades K through 8. As a charter school, CNCS does not receive facility funding from the state. When it needed to renovate its space to accommodate its growing needs, CNCS turned to TRF.
“TRF was creative about helping where it was difficult,” explains Bobbi Macdonald, the school’s founder and Board Chair, describing how with TRF financing the school has transformed its uninhabitable third floor into new classrooms and a computer lab. The renovations also include a new playground and energy-efficient upgrades.
In 2008, TRF also provided financing to Mayfield Scholastic for its acquisition of a former Catholic school building to be leased to two charter schools: The Green School of Baltimore and Afya Charter School. TRF was able to provide Mayfield with a 100% loan-to-value thanks to a guarantee on the loan for five years from the Abell Foundation, a strong supporter of charter schools in Baltimore. The Green School, an elementary charter school that uses the school’s environment and community as a context for learning, opened in September 2006 and currently has 80 students enrolled in grades K – 3. Afya, which means health in Swahili, opened with 113 sixth graders in September 2008 and is dedicated to fostering health and wellness of early adolescents.
TRF also worked with the borrower to evaluate its construction plan. On TRF’s recommendations, Mayfield incorporated over $500,000 in energy measures that will lower long-term facility operating costs. The two charter schools will directly benefit because the utility costs pass through in the lease.