As a community development financial institution (CDFI), we provide loans to build community assets across the state, from housing to small businesses, to healthy food projects. With our recent expansion into community facility financing, we now provide loans to charter schools. Earlier this year, we provided our first charter school bridge loan to D.P. Cooper Charter School in the amount of $140,000 to help with planning and implementation of the newly formed charter school.

D.P. Cooper Charter is located in the Blakely Community, one of the most remote, rural, and impoverished areas of Williamsburg County. According to SC Kids Count, Williamsburg County has an unemployment rate of 13.1% (9.1% statewide) and 41.7% (26.8% statewide) of children live in areas of concentrated poverty.

During a recent visit to the school, we saw first-hand the impact our loan has on the students, staff, and neighboring community. The school, once slated for closure due to funding cuts from the State, has become a thriving center of education for students up through the seventh grade. Had the school closed, students would have had to travel two hours each way in order to receive an education. The loan allowed D.P. Cooper to move forward in pursuing its charter and as a result, students can go to school in their own community.

D.P. Cooper opened its doors as a charter school on July 1, 2014 and has surpassed its original enrollment numbers by 53%. With its personalized approach to teaching and by building a safe and supportive environment for learning, the school strives to break the cycle of poverty that severely hinders the future of its students.

Walking the halls, it is easy to be overwhelmed with a sense of awe and inspiration for the work the school is doing, and the impact it will have on these children’s lives. It will provide a core foundation for them to build a future upon, the confidence and self-esteem that will allow them to succeed in school and in life, and the opportunity for them to break the cycle of poverty. We’re honored to be part of something that is transforming the lives of these children, and the community they come from.

To learn more about SCCLF’s Charter School financing program, please contact Anna Hamilton Lewin at anna@sccommunityloanfund.org.