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As you may have heard today in the media, Longwood Foundation and Bank of America have partnered to create approximately 2,000 high quality charter school seats in the City of Wilmington. Bank of America donated one of its four downtown buildings to be used for multiple charter schools. Below are some remarks delivered by Thère du Pont at the announcement event:

Thank you to Bank of America. They are making an unprecedented, thoughtful, and impactful donation of a building that will be a game changer for the students in the City of Wilmington. BAC has long been a major contributor to our community. This building emphasizes that commitment.
Currently, we do not have enough high quality educational opportunities for families in Wilmington. We plan on using this building to give high performing charter schools in Delaware the opportunity to expand and to encourage other high performing charter school operators to come to the City and help close the gap. We will implement a rigorous assessment process to qualify potential tenants. We also know that there has been significant demand from parents for existing quality charter schools to expand and for new schools to provide more options for families.

We take inspiration from our founder, Pierre S du Pont, who invested his time, energy, and money into Delaware’s educational system a century ago. He provided the then segregated schools for African Americans with brand new buildings. He was actively engaged with the State in broader efforts to improve Delaware schools. In the process, he helped lift Delaware’s schools from 35th in the Country to 7th.

We look forward to leveraging our own experience in launching a new non-profit building in Wilmington. In the mid 1990’s Longwood was instrumental in the development of the Community Services Building – just three blocks from here. The initial fear was that we would open a building for which there would be no demand – nothing could have been further from the truth. It is fully leased, well managed, and offers non-profit organizations a home at lease rates below the market.

With Bank of America’s donation, we will create a new non-profit called the Community Education Building or CEB.

  • The CEB will own and manage the building
  • Longwood will provide the seed funding to get it off the ground
  • Its purpose will be to improve public education by improving the quality of educational choices for Wilmington families – specifically by providing an excellent facility for multiple charter schools right in the heart of Wilmington.
  • As you know, the State does not provide capital funding for charter schools.
  • Since the schools that end up in the building will still be paying rent, this initiative will not address the challenge of facilities funding; it will provide a small number of schools in Wilmington with a quality space to lease so that they don’t have to be concerned with building a new facility
    or pursuing space to lease that may require substantial upgrades.

The Longwood Foundation is excited to:

  • Provide seed funding for this effort
  • Bring its experience from the successful investment it made in the Community Services Building.
  • Provide stability and guidance to the CEB as it works through its most challenging, early years.

Once the building is filled with a couple of charter schools, we hope to capitalize on the promising community school concept by engaging selected Community-Based Organizations to offer complementary life services on site such as health, optical, and dental care; before and after school care and summer enrichment opportunities.

In Bank of America and Longwood, we have two significant supporters for the effort – but we are not enough. We have much work to do over the next year. We’re going to be working closely with the City, County, and State to get the necessary approvals to repurpose the building, recruit tenants, and prepare the building for their occupancy.

Again, the primary benefactor of this building and this opportunity is Bank of America – We cannot thank them enough for their generosity and foresight in dedicating a building like this one to such a worthy effort. Longwood is excited to be next in line in developing the idea and pushing the Community Education Building towards stability and success.

Thère du Pont
President

View DE Online Report by Nichole Dobo
http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20120217/NEWS/202170330