IDEA Public Schools

At a Glance

National Office: 
505 Angelita, Suite 9
Weslaco, TX 78599
Phone: (956) 447-3796

Tom Torkelson
People Served: 
13,000
Year Founded: 
2000
Tax ID: 
74-2948339

Focus area(s):

Charter Schools

Description

IDEA Public Schools is a growing network of tuition-free K-12 public charter schools serving over 13,000 students across the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio and Austin, Texas. IDEA seeks to prepare students from underserved communities for success in college and citizenship.  IDEA's mission is not only to send 100% of students to college, but also have an  85% graduation rate from college in 6 years.

For seven consecutive years, IDEA has sent 100% of its graduates to a college or university. For the second year in a row, IDEA Public Schools has been rated an "exemplary" district by the Texas Education Agency. In the past ten years, IDEA Public Schools has grown at an average annual rate of 28% in terms of student enrollment.  

When IDEA executes successfully against its growth plan, they will increase the total number of college graduates from low-income families by 50 percent in the communities they serve and become the largest single producer of low- income college graduates in the state of Texas. In doing so, IDEA will support the dreams of thousands of children, parents, and others who imagine better for low-income families, their communities, the state of Texas, and the nation.

Impact and Outcomes

IDEA is committed to "College For All Children" and has sent 100% of its graduates to four-year colleges and universities.

Mission & Goals

IDEA Public Schools prepare students from underserved communities for success in college and citizenship by developing their academic, social, and leadership characteristics in order to apply, matriculate, and succeed in a four-year college or university.  It demonstrates that the achievement gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers can be closed at scale, using a sustainable financial model.  

Closing the achievement gap and ensuring college success is the best way to help our students succeed in life, contribute to their communities, and overcome the obstacles they face.  Achieving this requires the following beliefs and behaviors: No Excuses;  What individuals do during the day matters more than poverty, parent education level, or other external factors, Whatever it Takes; Through continuous improvement IDEA achieves ambitious results, 100% Every Day; IDEA's mission and goals apply to 100% of our students, 100% of the time. Creating opportunities that didn’t exist isn’t easy, and it requires that people give their best every day, Sweating the Small Stuff; The difference between excellence and mediocrity lies in paying attention and caring about the countless details that go into effective execution, Team and Family; As the source of strength for their organization, IDEA is committed to attracting and developing high caliber people.

Program

IDEA’s school launch model includes merging a primary school and a secondary school on the same site and at the same time.  Over time, these schools grow into a cohesive K-12 system.  Primary schools or "academies" enroll 672 students in grades K-5 at the maximum capacity.  Secondary schools or "college prep" schools enroll 740 students in grades 6-12 at maximum capacity. 

Schools are launched with Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 6th grades enrolled.  This is critical to the IDEA school launch model because it allows the principals on each campus to carefully create and support the IDEA culture within each class of IDEA students as they enroll.  A new pair of primary and secondary schools reach full enrollment in year 7 of operations when the first class of 6th graders enters 12th grade.

Each school, primary and secondary, has a defined program model and culture.  Please see pages 12-18 in the attached IDEA Business Plan for details on the curriculum, model, and school culture.  

Impact

In the past ten years IDEA Public Schools has achieved outstanding results for students, while building an efficient and sustainable organization, and growing at an average annual rate of 28% in terms of student enrollment.

On pages 8 - 10 of the document attached, charts are provided that compare data from IDEA Public Schools with that of all Region 1 schools (which includes all districts and charters in South Texas), all Texas charters, and all schools in the entire state of Texas including charters. The most important achievements include:

  • Significantly increasing student academic achievement and attainment for all students;
  • Closing historic achievement gaps for student subgroups;
  • Achieving results for low-income and minority students that are significantly above the average academic achievement results   for these students in Region I and across the state.

For the second year in a row, IDEA was one of six schools to receive the rating/designation of an Exemplary District from the Texas Education Agency. Much more academic achievement data is available upon request.  

Growth Plan

Given its students’ success, and a growing waiting list (currently 19,000 children), IDEA Public Schools is embarking on phase two of growth to serve more students from underserved communities in the Rio Grande Valley and to begin serving students in other underserved Texas communities, starting with San Antonio, Texas.  In phase two (2011-2017), IDEA Public Schools will expand to serve 30,000 students (38,000 at full enrollment) across 54 schools.  At the conclusion of this phase of growth, IDEA will operate 34 schools in the Rio Grande Valley, deepening its commitment to the families and students in this region. It will operate the remaining 20 schools in regions outside the Valley, principally San Antonio, Texas.   

IDEA Public Schools will maintain its commitment to growing to scale with a sustainable financial model.  Both within and outside the Valley, its campuses will reach financial sustainability based on public revenues prior to full enrollment (including both fees to the central office and debt service). It has developed a comprehensive financial growth model that is available upon request.

When IDEA executes successfully against this growth plan, it will increase the total number of college graduates from low-income families by 50% in the communities it serves and become the largest single producer of low-income college graduates in the state of Texas. In doing so, IDEA will support the dreams of thousands of children, parents, and others who imagine better for low-income families and its communities, the state of Texas, and the nation.

Location of Sites

National Office: 
505 Angelita, Suite 9
Weslaco, TX 78599
Phone: (956) 447-3796
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:

Texas

Financials

Most Recent Budget

Year Ended:

2013

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$0
Foundation Grants: 
$6,196,304
Government Funding: 
$108,917,572
Contributions from Individuals: 
$0
Special Events: 
$0
Program Services Fees: 
$863,939
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$0
Other Revenue: 
$7,490,804
Other Revenue (Description): 
Government funding includes state and federal formula funding, as well as competitive federal and state grants.
Total Revenue: 
$123,468,619

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$67,296,240
Occupancy: 
$0
Travel & Entertainment: 
$0
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$0
Telephone & Communications: 
$0
Payments to Affiliates: 
$0
Other Expenses: 
$37,732,442
Other Expenses (Description): 

Other expense Includes programmatic expenses and debt. 

Other Expenses (Description): 

Total Expenses: 
$105,028,682

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain/Loss: 
$18,439,937

Prior Year Actuals

Year Ended:

2012

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$0
Foundation Grants: 
$3,463,176
Government Funding: 
$90,887,471
Contributions from Individuals: 
$0
Program Services Fees: 
$646,905
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$0
Other Revenue: 
$7,496,298
Other Revenue (Description): 
Government funding includes state and federal formula funding as well as competitive federal and state grants.
Special Events: 
$0
Total Revenue: 
$102,493,850

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$52,850,854
Occupancy: 
$0
Travel & Entertainment: 
$0
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$0
Telephone & Communication: 
$0
Payments to Affiliates: 
$0
Other Expenses: 
$41,211,865
Other Expenses (Description): 

Other expenses includes programmatic expenses and debt. 

Total Expenses: 
$94,062,719

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain / Loss: 
$8,431,131

Major Funders

Charter School Growth Fund

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Michael and Susan Dell Foundation

Walton Family Foundation

Educate Texas (Texas High School Project)

Kern Family Foundation

Carnegie Corporation

Greater Texas Foundation

Laura and John Arnold Foundation

Communities Foundation of Texas