2023 Yass & STOP Prizes Launched Today

By News

Earlier today, the Yass Foundation for Education announced the launch of the 2023 Yass and STOP prizes in education. The competition includes 64 education awards, providing over $20 million in grants. See the press release about the 2023 awards launch here.

The application is now open, and the deadline to apply is July 15. Apply for the 2023 awards here.

Semifinalists will be announced in the fall, while finalists will be revealed in December. Read more about the 2022 award winners or about the Yass Prize and Foundation.

Here’s the summary from the Yass Foundation about the prizes:

Each year, the Yass Prize and STOP Awards Initiative recognizes the nation’s top education innovators who outperform for underserved students. In addition to the grand prize, finalists receive $500,000 and quarter- and semi-finalists will vie for $100,000 and $200,000 awards, respectively.

The Yass Prize is sector agnostic, meaning that there is no preference for any type of education other than it be Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless.

Read The 74’s Interview with New KIPP CEO Shavar Jeffries

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The 74 recently published a wide-ranging interview with Shavar Jeffries, the innovative new CEO of the KIPP Foundation. An acronym for Knowledge Is Power Program, KIPP is the largest public charter school network in the country. In fact, KIPP’s network now features 280 public charter schools. In North Carolina, for instance, KIPP NC, which includes four Coalition member schools, serves over 3,100 students.

Read the full interview with Mr. Jeffries here.

In The 74 interview, Jeffries addresses how to shore up bipartisan support for public charter schools and the challenges that educators face, post-pandemic. Here’s his hope:

We just want to continue to focus on children, to try to not get caught up in a partisan food fight, to really focus on what’s going to support students to love themselves, to recognize their culture and their identity as a source of power and a source of strength in order to fulfill their potential and change the world.

We’re going to ensure that student achievement and outcomes are the lodestar. And hope and hope that if we tell our story to enough of the right people, over a long enough period of time, more often than not, that’ll be good for kids.

Yass & STOP Prize applications open March 23

By News

Mark your calendars for March 23! That’s the date the application opens for both the Yass and STOP prizes. These awards recognize educators/education providers who are engaged in transformative education efforts. The Yass Foundation plans to award $20 million in 2023. Charter leaders, please consider applying!

Here’s how the Yass Foundation describes its goals for the awards:

The mission of the Yass Prize and STOP Awards Initiative is to identify and support more best in class education providers who can tackle the big education challenges of the day and deliver an education for students that is Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless. It’s more than an awards program or a philanthropic endeavor. It’s a movement intended to transform education for everyone.

In 2022, the Yass Foundation for Education awarded more than $20 million in grants to new and alumni organizations, including the prestigious $1 million Yass Prize to transform education, given to the group that most exemplifies the STOP principles.

Learn more here about how to apply. As mentioned above, the application opens on March 23. The deadline to apply is July 15. Semifinalists will be announced in the fall, while finalists will be revealed in December. Read more about the 2022 award winners or about the Yass Prize and Foundation.

Charter Omnibus Bill (HB 219) Action Items

By Legislation, News
We were glad to see so many charter supporters join us for Monday’s virtual meeting addressing HB 219, Charter School Omnibus. Matthew Tilley, the Coalition’s counsel, provided a clear and concise explanation about what’s at stake for charters in terms of local funding. As we mentioned during the meeting, opponents of the bill are mobilizing to contact General Assembly members. If we want to receive the funds that should follow a student to a public charter school, we must take action to support this bill. Both the NC Association for Public Charter Schools and the Coalition are encouraging all charter stakeholders to get involved! Please put advocacy for HB 219 at the top of your list. We need all hands on deck to make fair funding a reality for charter schools and students!

New resources to help with advocacy:

Find out who represents you in the General Assembly by using this link. You can email, call, or write to your House or Senate member. Please feel free to personalize your correspondence with your legislators, as this is most compelling.
HB 219 infographic – Stakeholders


House Passes HB 8, Computer Science Graduation Requirement

By News

Yesterday the N.C. House passed HB 8, Computer Science Graduation Requirement, by a vote of 115-2. Beginning with the 2024-25 school year, students would need to pass a computer science class in order to graduate. However, students would have the flexibility to do this in middle or high school.

The bill applies to all public school units, which includes public charter schools. HB 8 has now been sent to the N.C. Senate.

Here is some specific language from the bill:

Graduation Requirement. – Each public school unit shall offer to high school students a computer science course which includes instruction in using existing technologies and creating new technologies. The public school unit may offer such a course to middle school students. The State Board of Education, in consultation with the Department of Public Instruction, shall adopt a list of approved courses that fulfill this requirement and make it publicly available on the Department’s website. A passing grade in this course, whether taken in middle school or high school, satisfies the graduation requirement established in G.S. 115C-12(9d)a.3.

TMSA Triangle’s Virtual Panel at the UN

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TMSA Triangle will hold a virtual panel at the UN! The event is taking place at the UN’s 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Model UN students from TMSA Triangle are helping to organize the panel. State Superintendent Catherine Truitt will serve as the keynote speaker.

Here are the details:

WHAT: TMSA Triangle Virtual Panel at the UN

WHEN: Monday, March 13, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Read more here; register here.

We include the invitation, with QR code, below.

It’s a Wrap: 2023 Coalition Charter Advocacy Summit

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Last week, the Coalition held its first-ever Charter Advocacy Summit in Raleigh! The event launched Tuesday evening with a reception at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. We had a great turnout–200 attendees!– and were pleased to welcome so many lawmakers, General Assembly staff members, and school leaders. On Wednesday morning, state lawmakers–Rep. Saine, Rep. Elmore, Sen. Lee, and Rep. Torbett–along with State Superintendent Truitt, industry experts, school leaders, and charter stakeholders, convened for the Summit at the Raleigh Crabtree Valley Marriott Hotel. Over 160 charter leaders and stakeholders attended the Summit.
Altogether, we had 87 schools represented at the reception and/or Summit!

Sessions and an honor for Coalition founder, Richard Vinroot

Summit sessions proceeded at a fast and engaging clip, covering the education budget, local funding, enrollment diversity, the charter legal landscape, and much more. Dave Machado, the former director of the Office of Charter Schools and Charter Schools USA’s State Superintendent for NC, had this to say about the Summit: “Best charter gathering I have ever attended.” We consider that high praise–and we’re delighted to hear it! In addition, we were honored to present Richard Vinroot, the Coalition’s founding board chair, with a commemorative plaque. We are deeply indebted to Richard for his expertise, leadership, vision, and generosity of time and spirit.

We share some photos below …

Rep. Frank Sossamon speaks with attendees at the reception honoring members of the N.C. General Assembly on February 21, 2023.

Lawmakers, including Sen. Mike Lee, speak with colleagues and attendees at the Coalition reception.

Shae Faraday and Rhon’ya Talib of the Frederick Douglass Foundation NC greet Summit participants.


  • Left: Rep. John Torbett speaks to Summit attendees about funding students rather than systems.
  • Middle: Coalition Executive Director Lindalyn Kakadelis stands with Alpha Academy CEO/Superintendent Eugene Slocum and State Superintendent Catherine Truitt.
  • Right: Former lawmaker Marcus Brandon speaks about the political challenges charter schools face.

A round of thanks

We also want to extend a huge thank you to all who joined us–we loved gathering to talk about how to leverage the power of public policy to protect all charters! We want to express our gratitude to our corporate sponsors, whose support made it possible for us to hold this event. THANK YOU!

Finally, we share a thank you to our distinguished roster of speakers, our Coalition Board and team–and to several others: Brian Jodice for his onsite media support, graphic designer Jeff Blair, and Shae Faraday and Rhon’ya Talib of the Frederick Douglass Foundation of NC, who helped with registration and check-in.

See you next year!

Summit resources

Pinnacle Classical Academy Celebrates Groundbreaking, School Expansion

By News

Last Friday, February 17, Pinnacle Classical Academy in Shelby, North Carolina, celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony for a new building project. Funded by a loan from the USDA, new construction will enable the public charter school to expands its offerings to students in grades 4-12. The building project will add classroom space and enlarge the school’s gymnasium, among other things.

Unlike district schools, public charter schools do not receive any capital funding for their facilities.


School and community leaders celebrate at a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday, February 17, 2023, at Pinnacle Classical Academy. Pictured leaders include Sen. Debbie Clary (center left, in black and white), the school’s board chair, and Dr. Shelly Shope, the school’s headmaster and a member of the Coalition Board of Directors (center right, in red and black). Photo credit: Dr. Shelly Shope and The Gaston Gazette.

Read the school’s press release below:

Pinnacle Classical Academy broke ground on the second phase of its grade 4-12 campus on Joe’s Lake Road on February 17.

Representatives of T.C. Strickland Construction, Holland & Hamrick Architects, and the USDA joined students, faculty, and members of the board of directors at the groundbreaking. Speakers included Dr. Shelly Shope (the school’s headmaster), Sen. Debbie Clary (chair of the board of directors), Sen. Wes Westmoreland (board vice chair and facilities chair), and Nicholas Lattanzi of the USDA. Emily Bridges and Lydia Canipe, the presidents of the junior and senior classes, led the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and the School Pledge.

Although Pinnacle Classical Academy is a public school, Pinnacle – like other charter schools – receives no capital funding and thus has relied on the USDA to help finance this $15 million project. The project will effectively double the footprint of the current school, adding roughly 60,000 square feet and expanding the gymnasium and locker rooms.

“This is our second major project with USDA, and we are so grateful for their help and support – there is simply no way we can meet the demands of Cleveland and surrounding counties for school choice without their financing,” said Clary.

“The growth we have experienced has put pressure on our facilities, particularly with the college classes offered here,” Dr. Shope added. “We are most anxious to add the additional classrooms, lab, and media space to our campus.”

Pinnacle is currently accepting applications for new students and will hold a lottery on Monday, March 13, at 6:00 PM. Applications are available online at, and students will be accepted on a random basis pending space availability.

“To have additional space will allow us to open even more spots for families looking for a unique, classical curriculum, academic rigor, successful safety record, and many athletic opportunities,” said Clary.

Pinnacle Classical Academy is a tuition-free public charter school with campuses on South Post Road (K-3) and Joe’s Lake Road (4-12) in Shelby. Consistently one of the state’s top-performing public school units, Pinnacle has 1,137 students in grades K-12 and more kindergarteners than any other school in Cleveland County.

Read more about the groundbreaking in the Shelby Star.

New “Charter 101” resource for parents, charter supporters

By News

The Coalition has a new “Charter 101” resource for charter parents and charter supporters. It’s an infographic with the latest facts and figures about charter schools in North Carolina.

For example, using the infographic you’ll find out:

  • The number of charter schools that currently operate in North Carolina
  • How many students attend public charter schools
  • What percentage of local funds charters receive compared to district schools
  • How charter school demographics compare to district and state demographics

….And much more! Click here or on the image below to access the infographic.