Cheryl Johnson Watts
Prepare to Apply for the PACSP Grant
Updated: Mar 9
Application for the PACSP Grant is done through an online portal. There will be an announcement on the PA Coalition of Public Charter Schools website, the PACSP Grant website and through the PCPCS Newsletter. If you subscribed to the PACSP Grant website email list you will receive notification directly to your inbox when the Request For Application window opens. Please review the following information to understand what will be expected in the application process.
What is the purpose of the grant?
The Pennsylvania Charter Schools Program (PACSP) represents $30 million in funds available to help Pennsylvania expand opportunities for students to attend excellent public charter schools that meet and exceed state academic standards. PACSP will promote two overriding outcomes:
increasing the number of high-quality charter schools that educate substantial at-risk student populations, and
improving student outcomes in PA charter schools, particularly for at-risk students.
Both interim and summative performance measures have been set to achieve this long-term impact.
Who is eligible for the grant?
Eligible applicants must have an approved charter school petition from a Pennsylvania authorizer in order to apply for Federal CSP dollars under this program. PACSP cannot fund applicants through the charter application process. Grant applicants must conform to the federal definition of a public charter school in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act [P.L. 114-95, section 4310(2)] to be eligible for grant funds under the CSP.
PACSP will follow the federal definition of high-quality charter schools:
shows evidence of strong academic results which may include strong student academic growth as determined by the state; has no significant issues in the area of student safety, financial and operational management, or statutory or regulatory compliance; has demonstrated success in significantly increasing student academic achievement, including graduation rates where applicable, for all students served by the charter school; and
has demonstrated success in increasing student academic achievement, including graduation rates where applicable, for each of the subgroups of students, as defined in section 1111(c)(2) of the ESSA, except that such demonstration is not required in a case in which the number of students in a group is insufficient to yield statistically reliable information or the results would reveal personally identifiable information about an individual student.
Expanding or Replicating Schools
Those who wish to expand or replicate existing charter schools must meet the ESSA SEC. 4310 (7-9) definitions of expanding, replicating and high quality. Schools that do not meet this definition are not eligible for subgrant funding.
Who determines who will receive the grant?
To ensure subgrants are awarded to the most capable applicants, each proposal for a CSP sub grant will be reviewed by an external Peer Review panel. These reviewers will receive training on the effective use of a Peer Review Rubric to rate potential sub grant proposals. Individuals selected as peer reviewers must be well informed regarding education, education policy, evaluation, and operations of public charter schools.
Peer Reviewers will independently read, score, and provide timely, written comments supported by the application scoring rubric and relevant laws and regulations to provide award recommendations to the CSP Co-Directors. To ensure a diverse collection of impartial reviewers who are intimately familiar with the Commonwealth’s educational and political landscape and who are well-positioned to assess whether a school will contribute to the advancement of the CSP project’s objectives, the Peer Review panel will consist of five primary members and two alternate members from the following categories:
a disinterested member of the PCPCS board;
a successful charter school founder;
an expert in charter school business management and finance;
a representative from a Pennsylvania institution of higher education; and
a member of the PCPCS Legal Advisory Council.
Peer Reviewers will be required to self-report any conflicts of interest. Peer Reviewers shall not participate in any way in actions or decisions that directly or indirectly involve their own financial interests or those of their families or business associates. If potential reviewers are directly or indirectly affiliated with a grant applicant through themselves, a family member or business interest, the individual will not be allowed to score applications where the conflict of interest exists and the application will be assigned for review by an alternate member of the Peer Review panel.
What are the expenses that the PACSP Grant will allow?
Some examples of allowable subgrantee expenses include:
Planning and program design that does not exceed 18 months
One-time costs for the purpose of opening, replicating, or expanding
Costs with preparing teachers, school leaders, and specialized instructional support personnel
Supplies, training, equipment, and educational materials
Renovations for a new school building to comply with applicable statues and regulations (construction is excluded)
Community engagement activities
It is expressly prohibited to use CSP grant funds for the purchase or leasing of a facility.
The following items CANNOT be funded under this grant. Any proposed expenditures including the following items will not be funded:
Grant funds may not be used to offset or cover costs of preparing and applying for CSP grant funds
Capital expenses, such as remodeling, technology leases, elevators, water main valves, vans, tractors, bobcats, or permanent fixture of equipment/furniture
Professional dues or memberships
Employee hiring/recruitment expenses such as a placement firm or travel for prospective employees
Non-educational/non-informative promotional/novelty items for advertising, events, or recruiting
Grant oversight expenses
Costs of continuing education credits for professional development coursework
Gift certificates, alcoholic beverages, school apparel for staff or students, fines and penalties, lobbying
Food for meetings or any other purposes
How does the Peer Review panel make their decision?
The Peer Reviewers independently read, score, and provide timely, written comments supported by the application scoring rubric and relevant laws and regulations to provide award recommendations. These reviewers will receive training on the effective use of the Peer Review Rubric to rate potential subgrant proposals.
The Peer Review Rubric consists of: (Click for more details)
Project Specific Narrative Rubric
Competitive Preference Priority Plan Rubric
Track Record Rubric - List of Suggested Evidence Documentation