This is the first investment in Detroit for CACSFF, an innovative real estate fund that provides much-needed capital to enable operators of best-in-class charter schools to secure permanent, high-quality school facilities. CACSFF has partnered with Lighthouse Academies once before to open North Point Lighthouse Charter School, a pre-K – 4th grade school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“Successful charter schools have the potential to create better educational opportunities for children across the United States. We are committed to increasing the growth of proven academic performers by providing easier access to school facilities and bridging the gap to ownership,” said Bobby Turner, CACSFF Co-Managing Partner and Chairman and CEO of Canyon Capital Realty Advisors. “We are pleased to team up for a second time with Lighthouse Academies, which has an excellent track record of innovation and achievement. We are confident that Southwest Detroit Lighthouse Charter School will deliver terrific results for its new students.”
The only fund of its kind in the United States, CACSFF was created in 2011 as a joint venture between Canyon Capital Realty Advisors (CCRA) and Agassi Ventures (AV) to facilitate the development of school sites in urban communities across the United States. The partnership combines CCRA’s and AV’s substantial resources, development expertise and passion for educational excellence to assist the charter school community in securing academically friendly, environmentally sustainable school facilities for students and teachers. The number of charter schools across the country is continuing to grow year-over-year, and operators routinely cite securing suitable learning facilities as one of their greatest challenges.
“I believe that we must do everything we can to support strong schools in underserved communities. Our goal is to provide top-tier charter school operators with access to great facilities, and let them focus on what they do best: educating children,” said Andre Agassi, CACSFF Co-Managing Partner, CEO of Agassi Ventures and founder of the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy. “The Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund is enabling charter school operators like Lighthouse Academies to realize their full potential and expand their reach in communities where their expertise is so desperately needed.”
Founded in 2003, Lighthouse Academies is a growing network of charter schools that uses an arts-infused, K-12 college prep program to generate superior academic results. Its goal is to offer a replicable school model relying only on funding provided by law that closes the educational achievement gap and sends 100 percent of graduates on to college. The first Lighthouse Academies school opened in the Bronx, New York in 2004; with the addition of Southwest Detroit Lighthouse Charter Academy, the Lighthouse network includes 20 schools, serving more than 7,200 students in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.
“Lighthouse Academies is thrilled to partner with the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund for a second time to expand our reach into a new community, Detroit,” said Michael Ronan, Founder and CEO of Lighthouse Academies. “CACSFF is a unique program, and one of the best structures I’ve come across in 15 years of working with charter schools. In this time of intense financial challenges, the support of entities like CACSFF is more important than ever to ensure Detroit's students have a pathway to college and rewarding careers.”
Over the next several years, CACSFF aims to facilitate the development of more than 75 urban school sites for best-in-class charter school operators, creating new seats for up to 50,000 students. The fund’s previous investments were KIPP Philadelphia Elementary Academy in Philadelphia, North Point Lighthouse Charter School in Milwaukee, and the EAGLE College Preparatory Schools’ Harmony Campus in Phoenix.
The fund has the backing of a world-class group of institutional investors who share CACSFF’s commitment to effecting positive societal change while pursuing positive financial returns.
In addition to providing high-performing charter school operators such as Lighthouse Academies with high-quality facilities at affordable lease rates, the fund provides charter school operators the opportunity to purchase their schools once they reach full occupancy. To this end, CACSFF will help operators obtain permanent financing to purchase their properties using New Market Tax Credits, tax-exempt bond offerings, or funding from the U.S. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund.
“The ability to secure adequate facilities is the greatest impediment to charter school growth, and CACSFF is uniquely positioned to provide long-term facilities to high-quality charter operators so they can provide the best education possible for their students,” said CACSFF CEO Glenn Pierce. “As we continue investing across the country, more charter operators are recognizing the value of this sustainable and market-driven fund, and are calling on CACSFF to help expand their reach. We look forward to opening many more schools in the near future.”
About Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund
The Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund is the nation’s first market-driven real estate fund designed to accelerate growth of high-performing charter schools and provide educational opportunities for 40,000-50,000 underserved students while simultaneously targeting market-rate financial returns for socially responsible investors. The Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund is managed by Canyon-Agassi Realty Advisors, and is a partnership between an affiliate of Canyon Capital Realty Advisors LLC and Agassi Ventures, LLC. For more information, visit www.canyonagassi.com.