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The Twin Cities Are Financing Schools — With Bonds

Today, hundreds of former schools sit vacant across the country. To make them useful once more — and help revitalize surrounding neighborhoods — cities are turning to bond initiatives to secure financing.

In the Twin Cities, two unique immersion schools — one teaching in Mandarin Chinese, the other in Germany — each ran out of capacity. Piper Jaffray, an investment bank and asset management firm headquartered in Minneapolis, underwrote bonds for both schools — just two examples of the thousands of bonds the firm underwrites annually to help fund a variety of public work projects.

Yinghua Academy, the first fully immersive Mandarin Chinese K-8 school in the Midwest, used the capital from a $13 million bond issue to secure and modernize a 1950s-era Minneapolis Public School. Across the river in St. Paul, the Twin Cities German Immersion School used an $8.4 million bond issue to restore and expand the vacant St. Andrews Church and School facilities in the Como neighborhood.

New Construction, Too

In Philadelphia, nonprofits operating charter schools are accessing tens of millions of dollars in funding through bond issues to build new schools. Why? One school alone, Green Woods Charter School, received 1,150 applications for 35 openings in September of 2013.

“From my perspective, there is no other way to get funding,” said Jean Wallace, Green Woods’ chief executive.

Whether for renovation of sites in disuse or new construction, bond issues are making a real difference.

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