Charter School Advisors (CSA) launches today as three highly experienced
charter school practitioners combine forces to advise and support
charter schools through all aspects of the facility acquisition process.
CSA is being formed as a not-for-profit organization and is a Registered
Municipal Advisor with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission and the
Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.
CSA's team brings with it more than 45 years of experience working in
the charter school movement. This firsthand experience has allowed CSA
to create a unique set of services that aims to educate and advocate for
charter schools and help those schools to overcome any and all facility
financing challenges they may face. CSA provides innovative project
management and financing solutions for its clients that will help to
ensure their long-term viability. Additionally and uniquely, CSA
delivers relevant, up-to-date charter school sector research to better
inform its partners of important market conditions and legislative
"Our services are designed to help charter schools acquire the
facilities they need. We help schools conquer the challenge of finding,
financing and making ready the space they require to run high-quality
educational programs" said Chris Bender, Senior Managing Director of
CSA. "Facility projects are complicated and time consuming. When
educators offload those tasks to professional and experienced partners,
they can focus on what matters most - the students."
Throughout their careers, CSA's Senior Managing Director Chris Bender,
Managing Director of Facility Finance Wendy Berry, and Managing Director
of Construction Jim Miller, have successfully tackled a myriad of
complex charter school construction projects, school relocations, tax
exempt bond issuances, New Market Tax Credit transactions and other
alternative loan products. In December of 2013, the team successfully
executed the nation's first charter school loan under the CDFI Bond
"We've been down this road before and have firsthand experience dealing
with a whole range of facility financing options for charter schools,"
said Ms. Berry. "Every school's situation is different and our
experience allows us to fit the solution to meet the need. We know the
challenges that lie ahead and we want to be sure our clients have help
navigating around and through them."
Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter
Schools echoed the market need for the new venture, "Finding and funding
quality facilities continues to be a considerable challenge for many
public charter schools. We are glad that firms like Charter School
Advisors have recognized that need and are working to help."
Before forming CSA, Mr. Bender served for 13 years as the Founding
Executive Director of the Brighter Choice Foundation in Albany NY. In
that role, he oversaw the establishment of a network of schools that
serves more than 3,000 students today. His role included all aspects of
school start up, board governance and operation. Before Brighter Choice,
Bender established insurance programs for charter schools. He has been
active in the charter movement as a board member and operator since New
York's charter law was passed in 1998.
Ms. Berry has an extensive background in facility financing for charter
schools and other not-for-profit organizations, and most recently served
as the Director of Facility Finance for the Brighter Choice Foundation.
She has also provided expertise to other leaders in the charter school
and finance sector, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the
New York State Housing Finance Agency, the SUNY Charter Schools
Institute and the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) where she
co-authored two comprehensive reports on the charter school bond
sector. Her background includes experience as an investment banker and
financial advisor with Jefferies and Co. where she executed charter
school bond financings throughout the country. She also served for more
than 15 years at Moody's Investors Service where, as Senior Vice
President, she had responsibility for assessing the financial,
management, and programmatic quality of governmental and not-for-profit
borrowers. She also served as a policy and fiscal advisor in the New
York State Legislature.
Overseeing CSA's construction services is Jim Miller. Mr. Miller has a
long and distinguished career in the construction industry including
top-level management in several companies where he has worked through
hundreds of construction projects of nearly every kind. Since 2005,
Jim's focus has been on charter school construction.
For more information about Charter School Advisors, visit www.csadvisors.org
or call Chris Bender at 518-694-4114.
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