Aspire Public Schools

At a Glance

National Office: 
1001 22nd Ave
Oakland, CA 94606
Phone: 510-434-5516

Carolyn Hack
People Served: 
16,000
Year Founded: 
1998
Tax ID: 
94-3311088

Focus area(s):

Charter Schools
Teacher & Principal Training
College Access

Description

Aspire Public Schools is a national K-12 school system focused on improving public education by preparing underserved students for college, training highly effective teachers and sharing innovative best practices. Aspire serves more than 14,600 students in 38 open-enrollment public schools in underserved communities across California and Memphis, Tenn. Founded in 1998, Aspire delivers a rigorous College for Certain education which has led to nearly 100 percent of graduating Aspire seniors being accepted to four-year colleges or universities over the last five years. Visit Aspire Public Schools at www.aspirepublicschools.org.

Aspire’s core mission is preparing every single student in their schools for college success. Aspire does what it takes to deliver on the promise of College for Certain. This goal is achieved through a program centered on:

  • College for Certain culture
  • Academic rigor
  • Staff collaboration
  • Data-driven instruction
  • Teaching effectiveness

Impact and Outcomes

Based on the newly released 2011-2012 API Scores, Aspire Public Schools ranks #1 among large districts with 2/3 or more low-income students for the third year in a row.
100% of graduating seniors accepted to four-year college or university.
Aspire has achieved both quality and scale. It's in the top 1% in performance and top 10% in size across all CA school systems.
Aspire schools significantly outperformed the average for other low-income schools and for CA overall.
Most Aspire schools have already exceeded the state target for academic excellence.

Matching Gift

The Gates Foundation has provided a match for the i3 grant where every additional dollar that Aspire receives will empower them to keep Gates money focused on teacher evaluations, while still rolling out cutting-edge i3 portal.

Mission & Goals

Aspire’s core mission is preparing every single student in our schools for college success. Aspire does what it takes to deliver on the promise of College for Certain. This goal is achieved through a program centered on:

  • College for Certain culture: Every Aspire classroom is named after a college and decorated with that college’s pennants and colors. But the College for Certain culture goes far beyond classroom naming and decor. From day one, students – whether age 5 or age 15 – are asked to start thinking about college. Teachers integrate the importance of college into all their lessons. Starting in high school, students can take early college classes at community colleges or online to gain credits in advance of starting their four-year-degree.
  • Academic rigor: Aspire knows that successful college students must be able to articulate their opinions clearly and build strong arguments based on evidence. Aspire's teaching and learning model focuses on building students capable of that kind of thinking, talking and writing. Aspire encourages rigorous discourse through a focus on student-to-student classroom discussion. It puts the onus of thinking on students, asking them to do the “heavy lifting” in their learning.
  • Staff collaboration: Aspire teammates work together to achieve College for Certain for every child. Teachers co-plan lessons, debriefing after teaching to identify what worked and what didn’t. Once a week, students leave after a half-day so that teachers can pursue professional development. In those sessions, teachers work together to improve their instruction through video review, lesson study, and brainstorming sessions about specific struggling students.
  • Data-driven instruction: Aspire teachers rely on an in-house data assessment team, called Godzilla, to understand ongoing student progress. Through Godzilla, teachers can view the robust, student-specific data they need to adapt instruction to their unique group of learners. Aspire's Godzilla team has received national attention for its cutting-edge data analysis tools.
  • Teaching effectiveness: As noted above, Aspire is part of an innovative teaching effectiveness partnership called The College Ready Promise. Alongside other high-performing CMOs, it has designed a cutting-edge framework for teaching effectiveness. Each Aspire school works towards this comprehensive framework, supported in their efforts by robust, multi-measure evaluation and individually-customized professional development supports.

 

Program

Aspire's mission extends beyond preparing their 14,600 students for college success. It also aims to share best practices with other like-minded educators to lift the quality of education for all low-income students – not just those who attend its schools.

Aspire pursued that broader impact in a variety of ways. Recently, it launched a brand new initiative to share its cutting-edge data analysis tools with other CA educators. Through Schoolzilla (www.schoolzilla.org), Aspire empowers educators across the state to create easy-to-use, easy-to-share reports about student performance data.  Schoolzilla’s first tool, the California State Test (CST) Visualizer, allows educators to upload raw, messy CST data. From that input, they get beautiful reports that drive insight into student-, teacher-, and school-level performance. Aspire is excited to see other educators drive student achievement through the same sorts of tools that have led to its student success.

Aspire also partnered with a team of other leading charter management organizations to create The College-Ready Promise (TCRP). Through TCRP, it has worked collectively to define and develop highly effective teaching. With its TCRP partners – Partnerships to Uplift Communities Schools, Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, and Green Dot Public Schools – it has developed a cutting-edge teacher effectiveness rubric. This rubric feeds into robust multi-measure teacher evaluations. Through frequent feedback, clear expectations, and customized professional development tools, teachers at all four TCRP partner organizations are improving their practice. TCRP proactively shares it learnings with other educators, through convenings like the Ed Trust-West Forum and visits from CA state legislators.  TCRP also partners with other industry leaders to share best practices.

Aspire also works to reform education policy at both the state and federal levels. In 2010, its CEO testified before the United States Congress to spark changes in school regulatory requirements. In partnership with the California Charter School Association, Aspire's built relationships with state legislators to improve school funding and to remove hurdles to opening new high-performing schools. In fact, Aspire’s founders were instrumental in creating CA’s first charter laws and opening the state to more high-quality school options.

 

Impact

Aspire is the top-performing large school system serving predominantly low-income children in all of CA. It serves a population that is 80% Black/Latino and 75% low-income, and are getting markedly better results with these students than traditional schools. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, 100% of seniors graduated ready for college. Almost all of them were the first in their families to do so. Aspire is changing the odds for underserved students and preparing them for college success.

Some of our achievements include:

  • Based on the newly released 2011-12 API Scores, Aspire Public Schools ranks #1 among large districts with 2/3 of more low-income students for the third year in a row.
  • Aspire schools significantly outperformed the average for other low-income schools and for CA overall.
  • Most Aspire schools have already exceeded the state target for academic excellence.
  • Aspire has achieved both quality and scale. It is in the top 1% in performance top 10% in size across all CA school systems.

Growth Plan

Aspire was recently approved by Tennessee's Achievement School District (ASD) to open and operate charter schools in Memphis beginning in August 2013, marking the first time California's largest charter management organization is expanding outside the state.  They remain committed to meeting and expanding the need for high-quality public schools in under-served neighborhoods in California.  Aspire is proud to educate 14,600 students with a 'College for Certain' education. Memphis offers an opportunity for Aspire to increase its impact by offering more families a high-quality, public school option.

The urgent need for high-quality schools has attracted Aspire to Memphis. Currently, more than 80 percent of Tennessee's lowest-performing 85 schools are in Memphis. In addition, partners in Memphis are aligned in their focus on improving the public school system, leading to a ripe environment for collaboration and partnership - key elements to Aspire's success. Aspire will open two K-5 schools in fall 2013 with a focus on blended learning. Aspire will expand to 10 schools by 2018. 

Next fall – 2013,  Aspire will be a multi-state organization. Being multi-state means they will continue to solidify their schools in California as well as grow and share practices across the country.  This expansion opens up many opportunities to continue to catalyze change in public schools and they are excited about the many possibilities.

 

Location of Sites

National Office: 
1001 22nd Ave
Oakland, CA 94606
Phone: 510-434-5516
List of locations

To make a contribution to a program site:

  1. Click on the "Make a Contribution Now" button and include the name, city and state of the program you would like to support, in the "notes" text box on the organization's donation form, if available.
  2. If a "notes" or "designation" box is not available, write the city and state on your check in the "notes" section or call the national office to designate your contribution to a local program site.

Locations in the following states:

California

Financials

Most Recent Budget

Year Ended:

2012

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$0
Foundation Grants: 
$0
Government Funding: 
$78,837,724
Contributions from Individuals: 
$0
Special Events: 
$0
Program Services Fees: 
$201,126
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$15,521,083
Other Revenue: 
$0
Total Revenue: 
$94,559,933

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$59,936,733
Occupancy: 
$14,863,143
Travel & Entertainment: 
$941,302
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$8,777,541
Telephone & Communications: 
$747,637
Payments to Affiliates: 
$3,821,920
Other Expenses: 
$10,638,902
Other Expenses (Description): 

Total Expenses: 
$99,727,178

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain/Loss: 
$-5,167,245

Prior Year Actuals

Year Ended:

2011

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$0
Foundation Grants: 
$0
Government Funding: 
$69,465,292
Contributions from Individuals: 
$0
Program Services Fees: 
$396,128
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$12,930,532
Other Revenue: 
$0
Special Events: 
$0
Total Revenue: 
$82,791,952

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$62,271,998
Occupancy: 
$12,280,261
Travel & Entertainment: 
$1,381,493
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$5,905,608
Telephone & Communication: 
$741,932
Payments to Affiliates: 
$4,751,774
Other Expenses: 
$13,997,121
Other Expenses (Description): 

Total Expenses: 
$101,330,187

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain / Loss: 
$-18,538,235

Major Funders

Below, Aspire has identified the major private funders who supported us in FY11 and have made commitments for FY12.

 

Funder

FY11 Donation

FY12 Donation

Purpose of Grant(s)

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

$2,596,000

$2,110,000

  • The College Ready Promise
  • Early College Access programming and evaluation
  • Strategic refresh

The Broad Foundation

$1,105,000

$720,000

  • New school start-up in Los Angeles

Charter School Growth Fund/Walton Family Foundation

$1,250,000

$1,000,000*

  • School start-up

Michael and Susan Dell Foundation

$1,908,000

$1,318,000

  • Performance management systems
  • Growth capital
  • Strategic refresh

New Schools Venture Fund

$215,000

 

  • ASI Steering Committee
  • General operating

Oprah’s Angel Network

$1,000,000

 

  • General operating support

Rogers Family Foundation

$25,000

 

  • General operating support for Oakland schools

Sidney E. Frank Foundation

$194,000

$152,000

  • Early College Access in Bay Area schools

Silicon Valley Education Foundation

$1,000,000

$1,000,000*

  • General operating support for East Palo Alto schools

Stuart Foundation

$215,000

$215,000

  • General operating support

Tipping Point Community

$525,000

$1,500,000*

  • General operating support
  • Development consultant