Raza Development Fund Closes $8.5 Million in New Markets Tax Credit Financing for Excel Academy Charter School in East Boston

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New Markets Tax Credits program brings together resources for the highest performing urban middle school in Massachusetts.

"The school’s instructors are preparing these young students to succeed, pursue a higher education, and become the future leaders of our country," said Tommy Espinoza, President and CEO at Raza Development Fund.

Raza Development Fund (RDF) announced the closing of New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) financing to create a permanent home for the Excel Academy Charter School in East Boston, Massachusetts. Excel Academy was founded in 2003 to provide a quality education for students from the traditionally underserved communities of East Boston and Chelsea. The majority are Latino, and have historically been among the most underserved learners in the City of Boston.

The school offers a rigorous curriculum supported by a structured school culture, preparing students to later succeed at college-prep high schools and beyond. Excel Academy Charter School is the highest performing urban middle school in Massachusetts based on its students’ average advanced and proficient scores across all subjects, according to the 2011 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) data released in September. Results from the Spring 2011 testing show Excel leading all schools in the state in both 7th grade math and 8th grade English. Overall, more than 93 percent of the MCAS exams taken by Excel students—73 percent of whom are Latino and 75 percent of whom are low-income—achieved an advanced or proficient score.

The school has consistently achieved outstanding results, despite operating out of inadequate rental space in a strip mall next to a pharmacy. The financing will allow Excel to purchase and renovate a 19,200 square foot former parochial school, which will become a permanent location for the Academy. Located just over one mile from the school’s current location, the new site features a 1,500 square foot assembly hall and computer lab. New design elements will support Special Education and English Language Learner populations and extra-curricular programming, while providing classroom space to efficiently accommodate its 220+ student body. The project is estimated to create 110 construction jobs and maintain approximately 40 permanent positions at the school.

RDF partnered with Chase to finance the $8.9 million project. RDF provided $8.5 million in NMTC allocation, while Chase contributed the tax credit equity financing. Additional funding included $4.7 million in Qualified Zone Academy Bonds, $300,000 of taxable bonds, and grant contributions from the non-profit, Friends of Excel Academy Charter Schools, Inc.

"Excel Academy's mission to provide a quality education for urban students and its demonstrated success in educating traditionally underserved student populations with a rigorous curriculum, aligns perfectly with our mission at RDF," said Tommy Espinoza, President and CEO at Raza Development Fund. "The school’s instructors are preparing these young students to succeed, pursue a higher education, and become the future leaders of our country."

“Chase is committed to investing in projects that have a positive, sustainable impact on communities where we operate,” said Matt Reilein, head of Chase’s New Markets Tax Credit group. “We are pleased to work with the Raza Development Fund to help Excel Academy move into a much bigger space to continue to provide its students with high-quality education.”

“We are energized by the opportunity to create a permanent home for our school and a better environment for our students and faculty,” said Dai Ellis, Chief Executive Officer for Excel Academy Charter Schools. “This facility will help to enhance and perpetuate what is already a very strong educational program that offers a life-changing opportunity to students in East Boston.”

About Raza Development Fund
Raza Development Fund (RDF) is the largest national Hispanic Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) loan fund in the country. RDF’s mission is to create financing solutions that increase opportunities for the Latino community and low-income families in the areas of education, healthcare, community services, and affordable housing projects. RDF has been investing in low-income communities since 1999. Since then, the minority-controlled RDF has provided nearly $150 million of capital to leverage approximately $1 billion in project costs. With more than $107 million in capital under management, RDF ranks in the top 5% of CDFIs in terms of capitalization. For further information, visit http://www.razafund.org.

About JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Chase is the U.S. consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.2 trillion and operations in more than 60 countries. Chase serves consumers and small businesses through 5,200 bank branches, 16,200 ATMs, mortgage offices, and online and mobile banking as well as through relationships with auto dealerships and schools and universities. Chase also has issued more than 90 million credit cards. More information about Chase is available at http://www.chase.com.

About Excel Academy
Founded in 2003, Excel Academy is a tuition-free, public middle school serving East Boston and Chelsea. Its mission is to prepare students to succeed in high school and college, apply their learning to solve critical problems, and engage productively in their communities. Excel Academy has achieved outstanding results and has become an education destination for families seeking a better future for their children. With the passage of the recent education reform law in Massachusetts, Excel has announced its intent to expand its reach through replication in the Boston area. Excel has just opened its second middle school in Chelsea in 2011 and has been awarded a charter to open a school for grades 5 through 12 in Boston in 2012. For more information or to schedule a school visit to either our Excel-East Boston or Excel-Chelsea facility, please contact Rebecca Korb at rkorb(at)excelacademy(dot)org. Additional information about Excel Academy Charter Schools is available at http://www.excelacademy.org.

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