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The Opportunity Trust is pleased to announce receipt of the Department of Education’s Charter School Program State Entity (CSP-SE) award of $35.5M over five years. ​​This award marks a significant milestone as the first-ever CSP-SE award granted to the State of Missouri, which received the highest score of all applicants nationally. This federal grant will be a tremendous catalyst for the continued growth of Missouri’s high-performing charter public schools.

The award comes on the heels of new research from the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes at Stanford University (CREDO), finding that learning growth in Missouri’s charter public schools is in the top five of all states nationally. The study found that students attending Missouri’s charter public schools gained 39 additional days of learning in reading and 56 additional days of learning in math compared to students attending traditional public schools while also enrolling a higher-need student population.

Board Chair Keith Williamson shared, “We are honored and excited. This funding will enable us to continue our mission of expanding access to high-quality public educational opportunities for students in St. Louis and across Missouri. We remain committed to fostering innovation in education, cultivating strong community partnerships, and ensuring that every child has the opportunity to thrive in a quality learning environment.”

The Opportunity Trust was founded by a group of education, community, philanthropic, and business leaders to increase access to high-quality public schools and to accelerate the rate of improvement and innovation in public education across Missouri. This vanguard collaboration has attracted new national philanthropic support for educational improvements in Missouri.

More than $40 million has been invested through The Opportunity Trust over the last four years, focused on developing parent and student leadership, school and district innovation and improvement, stronger teacher and school leader talent pipelines, and research and data-driven school and community policies that support quality in schools.

To date, the organization has helped expand access to high-quality public schools in high-need communities with the addition of more than 4,700 seats at successful charter public schools, working with talented and diverse educators to design and launch six new schools with strong community support and robust enrollment. These new schools have brought innovative models such as personalized learning, place-based learning, and student leadership-centered teaching methodology to Missouri’s education ecosystem.

“This investment will further our work to develop a more innovative, equitable, and effective system of public schools that families, students, and our communities deserve and are increasingly demanding,” said The Opportunity Trust CEO Eric Scroggins, “With this award, we plan to continue working with our partners to create and expand schools that meet the needs of families looking for high-quality, free, public school options for their children.”

The Charter School Program was established in 1994 by the U.S. Department of Education and is designed to support the planning, development, and expansion of high-quality charter public schools across the United States, ultimately granting students and families access to diverse educational options. The Charter School Program State Entity (CSP-SE) is a specific grant program within the broader Charter School Program (CSP). CSP-SE grants are awarded to state educational agencies (SEAs) or nonprofit entities to support the growth and expansion of charter schools within the state. This financial support can be used for various purposes, such as conducting needs assessments, providing technical assistance to charter schools, disseminating best practices, and promoting innovation within the charter school sector. Ultimately, the goal of the CSP-SE program is to enhance the quality and availability of charter public school options for students in a given state.

“Being recognized with the highest-scoring application by the US Department of Education and receiving substantial federal investment is a resounding endorsement for charter public schools in St. Louis and Kansas City,” says Noah Devine, Executive Director of the Missouri Public Charter School Association, “It underscores that public choice is a critical avenue for academic growth and we look forward to supporting our schools, students, and families as they work to provide excellent educational opportunities.”