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Flexible Financing Widens Access To Education In Tennessee

Flexible Financing Widens Access To Education In Tennessee
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The $3-million loan from Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) and Boston Community Capital (BCC) will help Bluff City High School advance toward its goal of enrolling 640 students in Grades 9-12 by 2021. The school, part of the Green Dot Public Schools national network, opened last fall with 154 ninth-graders and plans to add a grade each year. Renovations to the site, former home of the Solid Rock Christian Church, and the addition of modular buildings are creating classrooms and staff offices, providing an infrastructure in which Green Dot Public Schools Tennessee can help close academic achievement gaps especially for students of color, from low-income communities, and with special needs.

Public charter schools in Tennessee face a number of financing challenges. For example, local bank mortgages rarely exceed 80 percent of a property’s value, while charter schools often need financing at 100 percent or more to cover development costs, and they tend to be in neighborhoods with low property values. In Memphis, charter schools are multiplying and growing, but many are still start-ups with limited assets. They are public schools but don’t get public funding for facilities or access to free facilities as others do, so many have to compete in the private real-estate market. 

Enter Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) such as NFF and BCC, which can make loans that fit a school’s needs with, for example, high loan-to-value ratios, and interest-only periods that defer principal payments and allow time for the school to grow and generate more revenue. These loans can also utilize US Department of Education-awarded credit enhancement grants, which guarantee a portion of the loan, allowing financing with less risk.

The deal announced today marks the sixth NFF-BCC loan to charter schools in Tennessee, collectively helping more than 5,400 students get a high-quality education and providing more than 200 new school jobs.

“CDFIs can be great financing partners for charter schools, community health centers, and other nonprofits when traditional lending isn’t the right fit for their facilities projects,” said Norah McVeigh, Managing Director, Financing, at NFF, which has supported more than 70 charter schools across the US with $135M in financing to date, including loans to Green Dot in California. “We are proud to partner with BCC and with Green Dot, and to provide the flexible capital that nonprofits need to do their important work in underserved communities.”

“BCC continues to expand its efforts to bring educational excellence to underserved communities across the nation by collaborating with public, private, and nonprofit organizations such as NFF and Green Dot,” said Elyse Cherry, CEO of Boston Community Capital. “Such partnerships increase access to high-quality education, create jobs, and contribute to the long-term economic viability of the community.”

“We are grateful for the partnership with NFF and BCC,” said Megan Quaile, Executive Director of Green Dot Public Schools TN. “The continued growth of Bluff City High School allows us to offer quality academic options to the students of the Hickory Hill community. Bluff City High School will serve as the proof point that all students can learn at high levels when provided the opportunity.”

About Nonprofit Finance Fund
Nonprofit Finance Fund® (NFF®) advances missions and social progress in underserved communities through financing, consulting, partnerships, and knowledge-sharing that empower leaders, organizations, and ideas. A leading Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), NFF currently manages over $310 million. Since 1980, we have provided almost $700 million in financing and access to additional capital in support of over $2.3 billion in projects for thousands of organizations nationwide. Learn more at nff.org and @nff_news

About Boston Community Capital
Boston Community Capital (BCC) is a nonprofit community development financial institution dedicated to building healthy communities where low-income people live and work. Since 1985, BCC has invested more than $1.4 billion in projects that provide affordable housing, good jobs, and new opportunities in low-income communities, connecting these neighborhoods to the mainstream economy.  To date, BCC has provided $16 million in financing for projects in Tennessee. In addition to Boston Community Capital’s support of education, the organization’s other programs include the Stabilizing Urban Neighborhoods (SUN) Initiative, a foreclosure relief program, and BCC Solar, which helps low-income communities gain access to the cost savings and price stability of solar power. Visit Bostoncommunitycapital.org or follow us @bococapital

About Green Dot
Green Dot Public Schools is a non-profit network of 30 Title I public charter schools, free and open to all, with a mission to help transform public education so that all students graduate prepared for college, leadership, and life. Purposefully locating its schools in historically underserved communities lacking in high-quality educational opportunities, Green Dot seeks to close discrepancies in access and opportunity between students from low-income backgrounds and their more affluent peers. Learn more at greendot.org and follow us @greendotschools

Media contacts:
for NFF: Tricia McKenna, tmckenna@nff.org

for BCC: Susan Rivers,

for Green Dot: Sean Thibault,

Cision View original content:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/flexible-financing-widens-access-to-education-in-tennessee-300627561.html

SOURCE Nonprofit Finance Fund

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