Building Hope Awards $175,000 In Impact Grants To 12 Inspirational Charter Schools Leading the Way In Community Engagement, Educational Innovation, Student Empowerment, and Charter School Leadership


New charter leadership award named in honor of building hope founding president and CEO S. Joseph Bruno

WASHINGTON, D.C. (MAY 5, 2023) – Leaders from 12 inspirational charter schools and 3 charter volunteer leaders from across the country accepted a total of $175,000 in grant awards last night in recognition of their school’s exceptional impact on community engagement, educational innovation, student empowerment, and charter school leadership. Building Hope, a non-profit foundation dedicated to creating high-quality K-12 charter school opportunities for students through its expertise in real estate, finance, and operational services, awarded the grants at the conclusion of its second annual Building Hope IMPACT Summit, which was held at Miami Dade College.

“The great American author Alex Haley urged us to ‘find the good, and praise it,’ and that’s exactly what our IMPACT Awards are about. Congratulations to this cohort of best-in-class charter schools,” said President and CEO of Building Hope William D. Hansen. “There is no greater gift to our future than helping children receive a quality and purposeful education. Thank you for creating excellence, innovation, and empowerment within the charter school community and raising the bar on how to educate our next generation, the hope and promise of a brighter tomorrow.”

The IMPACT Summit featured more than 30 sessions that brought together charter school leaders, authorizers, businesses, and associations to connect and collaborate as well as inspire the charter school community to continue its work to build bright futures for students through quality education. “The 2023 IMPACT Award winners are shining examples of the promise and possibilities of charter schools to create innovative educational experiences for children and make a positive impact on the communities they serve,” Building Hope’s Chief Impact Officer and Chair of the IMPACT Selection Committee Sherilyn Moore shared.


These IMPACT Award winners were selected from more than 260 charter school applications from schools in 38 states: 

Joseph Bruno Charter Leadership Award

Hansen continued, “Joe has been a true leader, mentor, and friend, inspiring Building Hope’s growth and having an immeasurable impact on the school communities we serve with his entrepreneurial spirit and his passion for education. Joe’s colleagues and clients know he strives for excellence in everything he does, so it is fitting that we show our gratitude to him for the legacy he leaves behind by naming in his honor and recognizing those charter schools that have perfected their model and made an impact on the charter school industry. Joe, your contributions and achievements will always be remembered and celebrated.”

The $20,000 grant award winner is True North Classical Academies in Miami, FL. True North’s purpose is to create scholars that exemplify excellence in soul, mind, and body. True North’s adherence to timeless principles produces remarkable results. The school scores 95% in math and 92% in reading, nearly 40 points above the state average. The school is consistently honored by families and the state of Florida for its excellence.

“Our culture of feedback and continuous improvement is key to our ability to deliver exceptional results year after year,” said Truth North’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Bileca. “A highly trained coach works with our teachers, reviews their performance with the lens of best practices, and picks one thing to work on that will make the biggest impact. We have closed the achievement gap. There is no performance difference between minority and nonminority students at our school.”


The $10,000 grant award winners are:

  • Greenville Technical Charter High School in Greenville, SC 
    Greenville students expect to attend college for training or a degree. The school’s Students in Action team is rated the Most Outstanding in the nation. Students take over 800 college classes each year and 97% enroll in a 2-year or 4-year college. 


  • Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, CA and California School of the Arts-San Gabriel Valley in Duarte, CA 
    Orange County School of Arts provides a uniquely challenging and nurturing environment for more than 3,500 students. OCSA offers a rigorous college preparatory program academically and pairs that with pre-professional arts training. The school celebrates creativity, individual growth and opportunity and consistently ranks among the best charter schools in California and the country.


Student Empowerment 

The $20,000 grant award winner is Galileo School for Gifted Learning-Skyway in Sanford, FL.

The school’s model brings gifted learning practices to all of its students to provide them with opportunities to engage fully in their education. Galileo students are involved regularly in discussions on what they’d like to learn most. The students choose extracurricular activities and advocate for which electives and enrichments they are most interested in pursuing, which led to the creation of Galileo Farms, a popular pre-vet agricultural program.

“We care about the voices and choices of our kids, that’s why they serve on our strategic planning committee, they go to staff meetings, and more,” said Galileo’s Principal & CEO Michelle Nunez. “We are here to create the opportunity for students to be motivated and challenged and to pursue their passionate interests, and my job is saying yes to students’ ideas and allowing them to put their ideas into action.”


The $10,000 grant award winners are:

  • Exploration High School in Minneapolis, MN  
    Students at Exploration High School have a direct voice in how their education is shaped and the way the school operates. As a project-based-learning model, they tackle education in a holistic manner, and students are empowered to explore the topics closest to their heart as a gateway to learning. Students and staff work together to solve issues and co-create the school experience.


  • Life Learning Academy in San Francisco, CA  
    Life Learning Academy’s deeply effective educational model is supported by its commitment to its students’ well-being. Empowering students by providing them with conflict-resolution skills and creating a deep sense of family within the school, has resulted in zero incidents of violence in 24 years and a 100% graduation rate. LLA’s free, on-site dormitory for students who face housing instability provides safety, security, and another opportunity to teach students the skills they need for the future.


Community Engagement 

The $20,000 grant award winner is Memphis STEM Academy Elementary School in Memphis, TN.

Memphis STEM Academy re-purposed an abandoned plaza that now provides a viable educational opportunity for students in an under-served area. Their reach extends beyond the students to their parents, with a unique entrepreneurship program for new community businesses to launch. The school also hosts monthly events to unite students and the community. Using data to drive performance and help its scholars rise, the school has achieved phenomenal growth and achievement on state tests and is recognized as the top charter school in Tennessee.

“As a charter school located in one of the most impoverished zip codes in Tennessee, we are a  beacon of hope for our community,” said Memphis STEM’s Principal Tamira Magee. “We believe you cannot operate schools independent of community. The secret to community engagement is love. You have to love the scholars and parents, you have to love the community, and you have to love the work you do. We invest in our community by being visible, grass roots leaders who show up at council meetings and board meetings – we have to show our community that we care.”


The $10,000 grant award winners are: 

  • Codman Academy in Dorchester, MA 
    Codman Academy’s mission is to help young people see themselves as changemakers. The curriculum has community engagement as a core element and is co-located with a community health center, where students can be inspired and participate in practical medical field work. The school also works with its surrounding neighborhood, recently completing a renovation of a vacant lot into an urban forest. 


  • International Community School in Decatur, GA 
    ICS is a K-5 charter school that serves students who speak over twenty-five languages and has become a hub for its local population with translation services and a food co-op. Their program for new immigrants to honor their skills and provide them an opportunity to become full-time teacher assistants and eventually grow into certified teacher is helping solve the teacher shortage and providing their students with a richly diverse educational program.



Education Innovation 

The $20,000 grant award winner is Legal Prep Charter Academy in Chicago, IL. Legal Prep is located in Chicago’s most distressed zip code. The legal-themed curriculum cultivates compassion, self-motivation, advocacy, and reflection. It helps students develop critical thinking and in-depth reading and analysis skills. Students meet lawyers, judges, and business leaders in a professional setting to sharpen their own presentation skills.

“Our school is located in a part of Chicago where young people are 769% more likely to experience violent crime, so the stakes for our students could not be higher,” said Legal Prep’s CEO, Principal, and Founder Samuel Finkelstein. “The legal profession suffers from a stark lack of diversity. At Legal Prep, our students are 99% African American and 90% low income. We use an experiential curriculum based on the law to innovate and inspire our 250 high school students to consider a profession in the legal field by giving them exposure to top law firms and attorneys in the city. The students coming through our doors are the most resilient group of young people you will ever meet.”

The $10,000 grant award winners are

  • Health Leadership High School in Albuquerque, NM 
    Health Leadership High School provides students with unique health/medical programming opportunities that honor cultural traditions while providing relevant, hands-on experience. HLHS is committed to community partnerships and strong bridges to connect students to opportunities beyond high school to develop college and career readiness. 


  • Logos Public Charter School in Medford, OR 
    Logos provides innovation in education from kindergarten to career. Every student plans their educational path with a teacher and their parents/guardians. Choices include beauty school, aviation training, culinary, college, club and academic competitions. A superintendent describes it as “an education unicorn” because of the vast array of opportunities they successfully provide for their individual students to thrive. 


Earlier, Building Hope awarded Shellie-Ann Braswell Shine Brighter Awards to volunteer leaders Megan Hunt, Mark Hurst, and Cara Nowak. This award recognizes charter school volunteers who give from the heart and demonstrate tireless dedication to creating positive outcomes for students and communities. Each winner received a $5,000 grant designed to advance their efforts to create sustainable change and bright futures at their schools: Carolina Charter School in Angier, NC; Yoder Charter School in Yoder, KS; and Desert Sky Montessori in Bend, OR. 


The 2024 IMPACT Awards application window will open in September 2023, and next year’s winners will be announced in early 2024. Visit to stay informed.

Building Hope is grateful for the sponsors of the 2023 IMPACT Summit:

Platinum Sponsors


Gold Sponsors


Silver Sponsors


Supporting Sponsors




About Building Hope

Building Hope is a national non-profit that empowers advancements in education through our work with charter schools providing unparalleled facility financing, real estate development, and operational services. We believe a facility should never be the barrier preventing a child from attending a great school. During our 20-year history, Building Hope has invested $482 million in high-impact charter schools serving nearly 200,000 children. 


Martha Holler

ShinePR for Building Hope |