by Valerie A. Hoffman, Communications Director, LLCA

Federal Funds will help to Increase Access for Educationally Disadvantaged Students

Lake Lure Classical Academy, a K-12 public Charter School and online Virtual Academy, has been awarded a $600,000, five-year grant from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to attract and enroll more educationally disadvantaged students.

The funds are intended for new and existing high-quality charter schools to better meet the needs of students including traditionally underserved students – those who are economically disadvantaged, homeless, non-native English speakers, students with disabilities, immigrant students, migrant students or who are unaccompanied youth.

Upon notification that LLCA had been awarded the grant, School Director Barbara Cohen said, “We are honored to be able to expand our high-quality educational program to students who might otherwise not have the opportunity to attend a charter school.”

As the single largest grant in the school’s ten-year history, the funds will be utilized to expand its science, technology, math, engineering, and arts programs. High school students will have opportunities to enrich their studies through outdoor and environmental classes, as well as computer science classes in coding, robotics, programming, and gaming. The middle school and elementary students will also be provided enhanced opportunities in science, technology engineering and mathematics, (STEM) and the arts.

“We plan on using funds from this grant to equip the school with two STEM labs that will train students for future careers,” Ms. Cohen said. “We are in the process of developing plans for outdoor learning spaces including a pollinator garden, an outdoor classroom, and an outdoor stage.”
Ms. Cohen observed that because the school’s 34-acre campus is located in an area where outdoor activities, nature, and environmental awareness are part of the region’s culture, the grant funds will allow the school to expand on those opportunities for all students.

Nearly three dozen charter schools across the state received between $300,000 and $900,000. There are 200 charter schools in North Carolina. However, not all of them applied for the grant. The county’s other charter school, Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy did not apply.

Under an initiative of the state’s Department of Education – Office of Charter Schools, the grant program is called, Advancing Charter Collaboration and Excellence for Student Success, or “ACCESS.” The program is funded with $36.6 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

To date, the grant program has awarded more than $20 million in subgrants to support equity in charter schools in North Carolina.

Lake Lure Classical Academy will also use the funds to increase and support their enrollment of underserved students through implementing a weighted lottery; buying buses and enhancing transportation options; providing professional development and training for teachers; and increasing student access to technology, curriculum and resources.

Some of the key goals of the ACCESS Program are to expand the number of high-quality charter schools available to educationally disadvantaged students and to develop a strong cohort of charter school leaders who can develop and demonstrate best practices in serving educationally disadvantaged students.

“These funds will go directly to expand opportunities for low-income students to attend high-performing charter schools,” said Alex Quigley, chairman of the state’s Charter School Advisory Board. “Too often in our country, school choice has been limited to those that have the means to buy a house in a wealthy zip code or send their children to private school. The ACCESS Program will increase equity by expanding educational options for parents regardless of their race or income.”

“Lake Lure Classical Academy is to be commended for its efforts to eliminate barriers that make it difficult for any student to attend our school,” said Mark Hamann, Board Chairman for LLCA.

The grant funding also supports the ACCESS Fellowship, a year-long professional development experience for charter school leaders intended to provide support and technical assistance to effectively develop, expand, and replicate schools focused on equity. Ms. Cohen will represent the school in this Fellowship program.

About Charter Schools:
Charter schools are public schools of choice that are authorized by the State Board of Education and operated by independent non-profit boards of directors. State and local tax dollars are the primary funding sources for charter schools, which have open enrollment and cannot discriminate in admissions, associate with any religion or religious group, or charge-tuition. They must hold a lottery for seats if the school is oversubscribed. Charter schools operate with freedom from many of the regulations that govern district schools, but charter schools are held accountable through the state assessment and accountability system.

About Lake Lure Classical Academy:
Lake Lure Classical Academy opened in Lake Lure in 2010 as a K-6th public charter school. It moved to a new 50,000 square foot building on a 34-acre campus in 2015. As a tuition-free public school, it educates more than 525 students from across four Western North Carolina on campus and through its Virtual Academy. Enroll or learn more at