July 16, 2008                                                   Department of Education

                                                                        Commonwealth News Bureau

                                                                        Room 308, Main Capitol Building

                                                                        Harrisburg, PA  17120


                                                                        CONTACT:    Leah Harris  

(717) 783-9802




HARRISBURGThe Pennsylvania Department of Education today said 13 recipients in five counties are receiving federal grants of up to $50,000 to assist the planning, development, and completion of unique, high quality and innovative charter schools.

“I am pleased to announce the award of these grants for charter school planning,” said Secretary of Education Gerald L. Zahorchak of the Federal Charter School Planning Grants for 2008-09. “These grants will help to create more educational opportunities for our students that incorporate high standards and strong accountability.”

Applications were evaluated by a team of professionals from current and former charter schools, school districts, and department staff. Grants were awarded based upon multiple reviews of applications to identify the most high-quality, innovative and unique charter schools in high-need communities across Pennsylvania. The award is a three-year grant.

Charter schools are self-managed public schools and are held to the same accountability and high standards as all Pennsylvania public schools. School districts approve and are accountable for regular charter schools while the Pennsylvania Department of Education is responsible for approving and holding cyber charter schools accountable.

Now in its eleventh year of operation, the commonwealth has 125 charter schools, 11 of which are cyber charters, serving roughly 60,000 students – 3 percent of all Pennsylvanian students.

Governor Edward G. Rendell’s 2008-09 education budget increased charter school state funding to $227 million, a 40 percent increase over last year. The new budget represents another year of historic investments in education, bringing to $2.7 billion the total new investments in Pennsylvania’s pre-K-12 school system since Governor Rendell took office.



EDITOR’S NOTE:  Attached is a list of the grant recipients and the amounts awarded:


Allegheny County


·        Propel Sunrise; Pittsburgh School District - $42,500

·        The Environmental Charter School at Frick Park; Pittsburgh School District - $50,000


Lehigh County



Luzerne County


·        Valley Academy Charter School; Hazelton Area School District- $43,400


Northampton County


·        Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School; Bethlehem Area School District- $50,000


Philadelphia County


·        Academia Charter School; School District of Philadelphia - $50,000

·        Democracy in Action Charter School; School District of Philadelphia - $46,348

·        The Village Charter School; School District of Philadelphia - $49,250

·        Empowerment Leadership Academy of Learning; School District of Philadelphia - $50,000

·        Red Lion Charter School; School District of Philadelphia - $45,000

·        Academy of Construction Trade Charter School; School District of Philadelphia - $44,080

·        The Learner Alternatives Charter School; School District of Philadelphia - $38,200

·        The Earths Charter School; School District of Philadelphia - $41,450