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TMCNet:  Announcing the Launch of: Charter School Advisors

[June 25, 2014]

Announcing the Launch of: Charter School Advisors

ALBANY, N.Y. --(Business Wire)--

Charter School Advisors (CSA) launches today as three highly experienced charter school practitioners combine forces to advise and support charter schools through all aspects of the facility acquisition process. CSA is being formed as a not-for-profit organization and is a Registered Municipal Advisor with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission and the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.

CSA's team brings with it more than 45 years of experience working in the charter school movement. This firsthand experience has allowed CSA to create a unique set of services that aims to educate and advocate for charter schools and help those schools to overcome any and all facility financing challenges they may face. CSA provides innovative project management and financing solutions for its clients that will help to ensure their long-term viability. Additionally and uniquely, CSA delivers relevant, up-to-date charter school sector research to better inform its partners of important market conditions and legislative changes.

"Our services are designed to help charter schools acquire the facilities they need. We help schools conquer the challenge of finding, financing and making ready the space they require to run high-quality educational programs" said Chris Bender, Senior Managing Director of CSA. "Facility projects are complicated and time consuming. When educators offload those tasks to professional and experienced partners, they can focus on what matters most - the students."

Throughout their careers, CSA's Senior Managing Director Chris Bender, Managing Director of Facility Finance Wendy Berry, and Managing Director of Construction Jim Miller, have successfully tackled a myriad of complex charter school construction projects, school relocations, tax exempt bond issuances, New Market Tax Credit transactions and other alternative loan products. In December of 2013, the team successfully executed the nation's first charter school loan under the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program.


"We've been down this road before and have firsthand experience dealing with a whole range of facility financing options for charter schools," said Ms. Berry. "Every school's situation is different and our experience allows us to fit the solution to meet the need. We know the challenges that lie ahead and we want to be sure our clients have help navigating around and through them."

Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools echoed the market need for the new venture, "Finding and funding quality facilities continues to be a considerable challenge for many public charter schools. We are glad that firms like Charter School Advisors have recognized that need and are working to help."

Before forming CSA, Mr. Bender served for 13 years as the Founding Executive Director of the Brighter Choice Foundation in Albany NY. In that role, he oversaw the establishment of a network of schools that serves more than 3,000 students today. His role included all aspects of school start up, board governance and operation. Before Brighter Choice, Bender established insurance programs for charter schools. He has been active in the charter movement as a board member and operator since New York's charter law was passed in 1998.

Ms. Berry has an extensive background in facility financing for charter schools and other not-for-profit organizations, and most recently served as the Director of Facility Finance for the Brighter Choice Foundation. She has also provided expertise to other leaders in the charter school and finance sector, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the New York State Housing Finance Agency, the SUNY Charter Schools Institute and the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) where she co-authored two comprehensive reports on the charter school bond sector. Her background includes experience as an investment banker and financial advisor with Jefferies and Co. where she executed charter school bond financings throughout the country. She also served for more than 15 years at Moody's Investors Service where, as Senior Vice President, she had responsibility for assessing the financial, management, and programmatic quality of governmental and not-for-profit borrowers. She also served as a policy and fiscal advisor in the New York State Legislature.

Overseeing CSA's construction services is Jim Miller. Mr. Miller has a long and distinguished career in the construction industry including top-level management in several companies where he has worked through hundreds of construction projects of nearly every kind. Since 2005, Jim's focus has been on charter school construction.

For more information about Charter School Advisors, visit www.csadvisors.org or call Chris Bender at 518-694-4114.


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