For Immediate Release
Posted: October 17, 2022


Kim Houghton, Communications Administrator
(603) 513-3030 |

Public charter schools receive start-up funds

Three new schools opened their doors this fall, four more are proposed

CONCORD, NH — Federal grants totaling $8,339,865 are being awarded to four existing or recently approved public charter schools in New Hampshire and to four developing public charter schools in the process of seeking approval from the State Board of Education.

These grant awards are funded through the latest round of installments from a $46 million federal grant received by the New Hampshire Department of Education three years ago to expand the state’s successful public charter schools. The funds, awarded by the federal Department of Education’s Charter School Program, were earmarked to support the state’s charter school program with a focus on at-risk students, and help spread education innovations to other New Hampshire schools. New Hampshire was one of only three states to receive grant awards through the CSP in 2019.

To date, a total of $17 million from the $46 million federal grant has now been awarded. The latest round of $8.3 million includes:   

  • Birches Academy Chartered Public School in Salem ($550,000)
  • Coastal Waters Chartered Public School in Exeter ($1,362,050)
  • North Star Academy in the Lakes Region ($1.1 million)
  • Robert Frost Academy in Conway ($218,975)
  • Four developing public charter schools seeking approval from the State Board of Education by the end of the year will receive $1.1 million, $1.5 million, $1.5 million, and $1,008,840. 

“This program is expanding public school choices for New Hampshire children and is offering students an unconventional path to success. Start-up costs are often an insurmountable hurdle for new charter schools, but this federal funding helps provide more options for Granite State families seeking something different for their children,” said Frank Edelblut, education commissioner. “We have accelerated this program substantially and have now awarded $17 million to public charter schools. We are grateful for the public, federal funding available to grow these options.”

Since the large federal grant was received, five new public charter schools have opened their doors in New Hampshire, a sixth charter school has already obtained approval and four more schools will be seeking approval. Previous awards from this grant include: Heartwood Public Charter School ($1.2 million), Gathering Waters Chartered Public School ($1.5 million), Lionheart Classical Academy Chartered Public School ($1.5 million), Northeast Woodland Chartered Public School ($1.5 million), and Spark Academy of Advanced Technologies ($1.5 million). A portion of the funding has been reserved for grant administration and required state-level activities. 

“Our $1.5 million grant has enabled us to begin investing in our programs in the way we have envisioned when we started. We have new equipment in the machine shop, new curriculum materials, supplies for labs and have finally been able to begin fully implementing our ELO programs,” said John Tuttle, director of Spark Academy of Advanced Technologies in Manchester, which opened in 2019 and now has 88 students. “We have also been able to have consultants in specific areas to help us grow our mission. This is the first year we will have a graduating class, and we have students entering into internships and apprenticeships!”

The five-year, $46 million grant is supporting efforts to increase, expand and replicate the number of high-quality charter schools in New Hampshire. It is also funding professional development for charter school staff and board members, and promoting innovative models and innovative ways of educating students. 

“In the latest competition for sub-grants, the Department set aside additional funds for schools that provided a solid plan for targeting and supporting at-risk or educationally disadvantaged students,” said Kasey Silva, charter school program grant administrator. “These additional funds will assist the schools that qualified in accelerating their plans and expand their ability to support these students.”

New Hampshire now has 30 operating public charter schools. Currently, about 5,256 students attend public charter schools in the state. Schools that have opened in New Hampshire since 2020 include: 

  • Coastal Water Chartered Public School in Exeter (opened fall 2022)
  • Gathering Waters Chartered Public School in Keene (opened fall 2021)
  • Heartwood Public Charter School in Jefferson (opened fall 2022)
  • Lionheart Classical Academy in Peterborough (opened fall 2022)
  • Northeast Woodlands Chartered Public School in Conway (opened fall 2020)
  • North Star Academy in the Lakes Region recently received its charter school approval and is projected to open in either 2023 or 2024. 

“The $1.2 million startup grant that Heartwood received from NHED was absolutely instrumental in opening our school,” said Bethany Bond, assistant head of school at Heartwood, which now has more than 40 students enrolled in kindergarten through fifth-grade, with plans to expand through eighth-grade in the future. “… The startup grant enabled us to start our first year with valuable professional development for our amazing staff of teachers and administrators throughout our preoperational summer, high quality instructional materials and furniture in our classrooms, as well as curriculum and supplies.”