Building Hope is, according to its website, a national nonprofit organization based in Washington that “partners with investors and philanthropic and government organizations to provide comprehensive charter school services.” Those services include providing financing for charter schools facilities “at below-market rates,” helping developing charter facilities, serving as an incubator space for new and expanding schools, offering financial consulting, and more.
Its website also says that it has provided more than “$281 million in direct loans, credit enhancements, and equity investments to support over $1.7 billion in school construction” to help 273 charter school projects in 18 states and the District of Columbia, affecting more than 133,000 students. It is in the District that Building Hope says it has “enjoyed its biggest impact,” with its assistance resulting in 47 percent of public school students attending public charters.
All of that makes Building Hope a powerful organization. Its president is S. Joseph Bruno, who oversees and directs “all aspects” of Building Hope’s operations. His biography says he is “a certified public accountant with 35 years of accounting, finance, business and management experience; was a partner in two of the ‘Big 4’ international accounting firms; and was the CFO of a public company.”
His biography says he was the first hire of Building Hope — as a consultant in 2003, the year it was formed — “and has guided the organization ever since.”
This post is a look at Building Hope and some of the connections it has developed over the years. The author is Carol Burris, who is executive director of the advocacy group the Network for Public Education and a former award-winning principal in New York. She has written for the Answer Sheet for years on corporate-based school reform and the charter school movement, most recently in a piece titled “A report that detailed up to $1 billion in wasted federal funds on bad charter schools may have underestimated the problem.”
Bruno declined to answer questions about this post.