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Friendship Public Charter School VPP Investment Partner Series


■ Friendship Public Charter School Imagine an urban public school system that really works: a system where the students score above national averages on tests, where the teachers provide caring and individual attention, where the classrooms are orderly and purposeful, where the buildings are well-maintained and equipped with the latest technology. And, perhaps most importantly, where leaders are empowered to follow a strategic vision and act quickly to fix problems and adopt best practices.

ready larger than the average school district in the United States. And this promising system, founded in 1998, is poised to grow, with plans to open new campuses in the coming years, including an innovative career academy to be located in Southeast Washington. “Children in DC deserve the same opportunities as children in the affluent suburbs. That’s what we’re striving to provide,” says school founder Donald L. Hense, who partnered with Edison Schools to develop the Friendship system. Friendship schools are organized into smaller learning communities, so that children benefit from an intimate environment even as the system grows. Says one Friendship 9th grader, “The teachers care. You can tell they love to teach, love to mentor, be one-on-one. They’re like family.”

That system already exists in Friendship Public Charter School, a multi-campus system that operates three elementary schools, one junior high school, and a high school. Serving more than 3,000 predominantly lowincome students in grades pre-K to 12, Friendship is al-


■ Profile Friendship Public Charter School is the largest public charter school in DC, operating five campuses with more than 3,000 students in grades pre-K through 12.

the Edison curriculum. The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools accredited FPCS in May 2004, and Edison Schools considers FPCS their flagship charter partnership among all the charter schools they manage nationwide. FPCS has experienced considerable growth since its founding and is among the highest performing charter schools (all five campuses) in the city.

Facts Founded: 1998 Executive Director: Donald L. Hense Chair, Board of Directors: Floretta Dukes McKenzie

FPCS was founded “to prepare District of Columbia children for success as students, workers and citizens by providing them with a world-class education.” FPCS students benefit from a research-based instructional design, caring and well-trained teachers, up-to-date instructional technology, strong leadership, and high levels of community involvement. FPCS’s four campuses are located in formerly vacant DC public school buildings: Chamberlain, Woodridge, Blow Pierce and Carter G. Woodson. FPCS used $30 million in loans from Edison Schools, Inc. to modernize these buildings and make them among the better school facilities in the District. FPCS students have made dramatic gains on the Stanford Achievement Tests since the opening of the schools, and FPCS has grown substantially, now serving 19 percent of all District charter school students on its five campuses.

2005: Staff: 361 Budget: $35.9 million Children Served: 2,899

Mission and History Friendship Public Charter School, Inc. is a public charter school network that was established in 1998 and is the largest public charter school provider in the District of Columbia, operating four campuses including three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school, enrolling more than 3,000 students in grades pre-K through 12. FPCS partners with Edison Schools, Inc., a school management company that in 1997 helped Friendship Schools prepare its charter application, establish its facilities, hire and train staff, and implement


■ Performance Summary and Fact Sheet Summary Friendship Public Charter School recently completed a complex business planning process, resulting in four detailed strategies to increase effectiveness and impact: • Refine academic program to invigorate performance;

Aspiration and Goals Friendship’s “whole child” approach to urban education is changing outcomes for children and youth, and demonstrating how to successfully deliver high-quality education to students in an urban area. Friendship students benefit from strong school leadership, research-based instruction, caring and well-trained teachers, state-of-the-art instructional technology, wrap-around social services, and high levels of community involvement.

• Enhance effectiveness of central management in supporting schools; • Expand school system; and • Increase independence from Edison to localize support and shift resources into schools.

FPCS aspires to expand in several new directions over the next 3 to 5 years and increase its current enrollment to 5,500 students. Specifically, Friendship aspires to: • Consistently improve student performance to meet AYP and become the public school of choice;

Key Information • Date, years, and stage of VPP Investment: May 2005; (beginning stage)

• Educate the “whole child” with wide range of academic and non-academic offerings;

• Capital committed and disbursed by VPP: $500,000 committed; $400,000 disbursed

• Expand impact in terms of both number of schools and number of students;

• Estimated children to be served in 2010: 5,200

• Widen portfolio of education options to respond to range of student needs not being met in Washington, DC;

• Revenue increase & % budget growth: N/A • Leveraged funding: N/A

• Build an enduring organization that will outlast all current employees; and

• Expansion to new places and coverage: N/A

• Prove that large urban public schools can be successful.


In an effort to reach these goals, FPCS is targeting several specific areas of growth following business planning including the following: 1. Growing the Woodridge campus from its current enrollment of pre-K to grade 7 to include grade 8, adding at least 75 more students to its enrollment over the next two years (an addition was completed in December 2004 to accommodate this growth).

The estimated capital allocation of $2,500,00 takes into account the organizational demands and requirements necessary to successfully manage a growing, multi-site, complex public education system with ultimately six schools and an average enrollment of approximately 800 students per site. We also anticipate that this investment will help FPCS deepen and increase academic oversight, strengthen facilities and financial management, and broaden accountability processes and systems. This strong core group of systems and processes will be needed to establish and ensure continuous improvements in student achievement and long-term stability in FPCS’s programs, services and campuses while experiencing significant growth.

2. Growing the Southeast campus from its current enrollment to add at least 200 more students over the next two years. 3. Adding pre-K programs at its other elementary campus as soon as space is available.

Investment Rationale Donald L. Hense has proven himself to be a strong and enduring leader and has assembled a capable team. In 1997, Donald understood the serious shortage of acceptable school facilities in the District and moved quickly to secure four former DCPS buildings to use them for FPCS campuses. Edison Schools, Inc. has been a crucial and instrumental partner in providing technical assistance, supervisory and human resources support, curriculum design and training, student assessment support, facilities management, budgeting, and purchasing. FPCS owns its buildings and almost all of the equipment in the schools, and if Edison were to dissolve or no longer remain a partner, the schools would still have the resources they need to remain operational.

4. Building and opening the first K-12 International Baccalaureate Program in the DC metropolitan area. FPCS has made bids to acquire a campus that would serve 1,000 students in Northwest DC, FPCS’s first campus in that part of the District. 5. Establishing Tech Prep in Southeast DC to serve 600 secondary level students (either 6-12 or 9-12) with state-of-the-art career education and trade apprenticeship programs. FPCS has made several attempts to purchase land for such a campus and once they are successful, aspires to build a new facility designed specifically for a school-to-work, career education curriculum.


FPCS has a five-year track record showing increasingly improving academic trends as measured by the SAT 9, the city-wide achievement test. From 1998 through 2004 Friendship Schools has improved its overall reading and mathematics performance across all four schools by an average of 26.6 nationally normed percentile points. The lowest gain was 12 percentile points and the highest was 40 percentile points. Three of its four schools met or exceeded their targets in their accountability plans for 2002-03. In 2003-04, 2 of 4 schools met their achievement targets and two remained static. On District-wide standardized tests the FPCS elementary schools have consistently ranked in the top 10 for academic improvement among nearly 200 public and public charter schools.

Parental involvement is encouraged and is a prominent feature of FPCS. Parental satisfaction with the campuses is routinely high as measured in the Edison Schools Annual Report on School Performance. Since its inception, Friendship Schools have consistently received parent satisfaction scores ranging from low 80 percent to the midninety percent. These parent satisfaction rates are similar to the better public school systems locally and nationally. Friendship School’s share of total charter school enrollment has increased steadily since 1999, with an extraordinary percentage of those students attending one of the four Friendship schools. In 2003-04, there were 17,000 students in District public charter schools, with 19 percent of those students enrolled in FPCS.

Only one charter junior high school and no other public junior highs raised scores faster than the Friendship junior high campus at Blow Pierce. As of Spring 2004, the graduation rate from Collegiate Academy (the high school campus) was 95 percent. Of those seniors who graduated, the college acceptance rate was 90 percent. This is more than double the current average rates for students in DCPS. All of the campuses have a significantly lower attrition and mobility rate than DCPS schools. Dropout rates for FPCS’ high school students are the lowest (less than 5 percent annually) of all large public high schools in the city.


■ Leaders Donald L. Hense

Floretta Dukes McKenzie

CEO & Chairman

Vice Chair

Donald L. Hense is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Friendship Public Charter School in Washington, which is considered one of the largest and most successful public charter school networks in the country. He is also Chairman and CEO of the Center for Youth and Family Investment and the former President and CEO of Friendship House in Washington, DC.

Dr. McKenzie is Senior Advisor to the American Institute for Research. McKenzie has a distinguished record of more than forty years of service to education as both a school administrator and educational consultant. McKenzie earned a bachelor’s degree from DC Teachers College in 1956 and a master’s in education from Howard University in 1957 before beginning her career as a teacher in Maryland. McKenzie later rose through the Washington, DC school system and became Deputy Superintendent in 1973. In 1974, she returned to Maryland and was hired as Area Assistant Superintendent for Montgomery County Public Schools. McKenzie worked for the US Department of Education as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of School Improvement, managing fifteen federal education discretionary programs and initiatives. She also served as the U.S. delegate to the UNESCO General Conference in Yugoslavia.

Hense previously served as Director of Development of the Children’s Defense Fund; National Vice President for Development of the National Urban League in New York; Vice President for Development of Prairie View A&M University of the Texas A&M University System; and Director of Governmental Relations at Dartmouth College, Boston University, and Howard University. Hense is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, and attended graduate school at Stanford University. He was a Rockefeller Intern in Economics at Cornell University, Merrill Scholar at the University of Ghana, Ford Foundation Fellow at Stanford, and Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley.

In 1981, McKenzie returned to DC Public Schools as the Superintendent of Schools and chief state school officer. In this capacity, she oversaw the country’s twenty-first-largest school system, managing 89,000 students, 13,000 employees and a $400 million budget. Under her leadership, the District established several public and private partnerships to improve instructional programs and District management. McKenzie also oversaw the implementation of the Five-Year Computer Literacy Plan, one of the country’s first longrange programs for integrating technology into the public school curriculum.

Hense is the co-founder of the Bridges to Friendship Initiative, which was highlighted by Vice President Gore at the White House Summit on Community Empowerment as a model initiative. He is Treasurer of the 21st Century Foundation in New York and is on the Board of Directors of the Center for Education Reform and the DC Art and Humanities Education Collaborative. He is listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World.


McKenzie left her position in 1988 to form her own company, The McKenzie Group, an educational consulting firm that specializes in educational management and planning. She served as its first president until 1997, when she became the company’s chairperson, a position she held until 2004. In addition to serving as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of Friendship Public Charter School, McKenzie serves as Chairwoman of the Howard University Board of Trustees, and also serves on the boards of directors of the National Geographic Society, Marriott International, and the White House Historical Association.


1201 15th Street, NW Tel: 202.955.8085

Suite 420

Washington, DC 20005

Fax: 202.955.8087 ■

VPP Friendship Investment  

Friendship Public Charter School VPP Investment Partner Series

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