Laureate Academy Charter School Receives $325K Walton Family Foundation Public Charter Startup Grant

NEW ORLEANS—Laureate Academy, a public charter school in Harvey, LA, is the recipient of a Walton Family Foundation Public Charter Startup Grant of $325,000. Entering its second year of operation, Laureate will use the grant to continue its work of providing a rigorous, college prep education for its students.

         "The scholars, teachers, and families of Laureate Academy are honored to be recipients of the Walton Family Foundation grant, which will help continue the successes our school has seen in its first year," said Bill Aaron, Laureate Academy's board chair.

         "The grant will support Laureate's instructional model of ensuring two teachers in every classroom, which will allow for a 15:1 student-teacher ratio," said Claire Heckerman, founder and head of school for Laureate. "It will also support the continued professional development of teachers and leadership by allowing for excellent school visits and additional teacher coaching."

         Laureate Academy serves kindergarten through second grade students in Jefferson Parish and focuses on ensuring that all of its students are on track to college beginning in kindergarten. In its inaugural year of operations, 87 percent of Laureate's students were economically disadvantaged. Only 11 percent of students entered the school on grade level in reading, but by the end of the year, 65 percent were on or above grade level. The school serves a diverse student body, and 98 percent of its students will return for the 2016-17 school year.

         "The Walton Family Foundation has been a longtime supporter of public education options in New Orleans, and we're grateful that they continue to invest in the region to ensure the growth of successful charter schools," said Caroline Roemer, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, which has served as the Grant Partner for the foundation's Startup Grant program.

         The Walton Family Foundation's Public Charter Startup Grant program aims to support high-quality and high-potential charter schools serving low-income children in the Foundation's target geographies, of which New Orleans is one. Walton Family Foundation reps said they are committed to helping high-performing charter management organizations to expand and replicate what works, and investing more into small, independent operators who have new ideas about how to provide high-quality educational options to high-needs students.

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