Why We Exist
The Georgia Charter Schools Association believes all students deserve an excellent educational opportunity regardless of their background. For that reason, GCSA developed its charter schools incubator program. GCSA’s charter school incubator will work to address Georgia’s educational needs by: 1. Recruiting top talent to start charter schools in Georgia; 2. Training and supporting applicants throughout the charter petition process; 3. Coaching and developing school leaders and their governing boards on charter school operations and governance in their first two years of operation.
The most recent KidsCount data shows that one third of children in Georgia are growing up in poverty. In Atlanta, specifically, 49 percent of children are growing up in poverty. This is compared to 20 percent nationally. A child’s opportunities for success should not be determined by his or her zip code. With a great education, students from low-income communities can attend great universities. Students from any background can learn when given the right tools.
Unfortunately, in Georgia, that is not the case. Less than one in four students in Atlanta is statistically expected to graduate from college. In fact, 44 of Atlanta’s 73 public schools were considered for state takeover just last year. Seventy percent of students in Atlanta Public Schools graduate from high school, but only fourteen percent of students in Atlanta Public Schools will ever earn a college degree.
How We Work
The incubator will collaborate with an initial group of candidates. Of those candidates, half will be in their second year of work with the incubator and the other half will be in their first year with the incubator. Year 2 candidates have participated in the incubator for a year. These candidates will be supported through weekly meetings. These weekly meetings will be either in person or via phone and consist of direct reviews and feedback on the petition and crucial next steps needed to gain approval through the petition process.
Year 1 candidates will be required to attend quarterly meetings in person that will focus on team building. There will also be mandatory monthly webinars on different aspects of the petition, consultations with experts, and group debriefs. All candidates will receive budget support and feedback through EdTec, a GCSA partner.
Post-charter approval, GCSA will continue to support incubator schools through ongoing leadership support and board training. This support will take the form of conducting an operational assessment, attending board meetings, twice a month leadership team coaching, and providing back office financial support to schools through EdTec, a GCSA partner.
GCSA will also assist incubator participants in applying for the Charter Schools Program grant. Schools located in the Atlanta Public Schools will gain assistance in applying for Walton Family Foundation funds at no-charge.
Incubator participants are required to use GCSA for governance and school leader support. They are also required to use GCSA’s back office support through year two, which is provided through EdTec. These services will be incorporated in the charter petition’s budget.
The Application Process
Incubator candidates are expected to have a strong commitment to low-income communities and communities of color. The GCSA Incubator targets applicants who demonstrate grit, perseverance, strong achievement, strong research and writing skills, and core values that are aligned with the incubator. Applicants will go through a multi-level application process. The initial application will ask for basic information and resumes of all team members as well as a short project description summarizing the school’s project idea. Applicants will also be required to submit a project outline with a sample timeline. Applications will be evaluated and scored by a panel of experts using a formalized rubric. Complete applications will receive a phone interview to better evaluate the team in the five competencies listed above. Based on phone interviews and written applications, teams will be invited to a panel interview and performance task. All applicants will be required to submit a writing sample by the team’s leader. Lastly, all applicants are required to attend GCSA’s CharterDevelopment 101 training or the State Charter Schools Commission’s Bootcamp as a prerequisite to applying.
Aarti Sharma will lead the incubator. For more information, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.