Building Hope supported Tech Freire’s dream to own their own school. With a $10 million low interest loan Tech Freire created the school of their dreams.
“It was heaven working with Building Hope. They were there for us at every step of the way. Now that we’re our own landlord, I’m realizing how much I’m going to miss them.”
~ Kelly Davenport ~
Building Hope and the Freire Schools network had an existing partnership when TECH Freire was in its earliest stages in 2014. Building Hope had provided credit enhancements for Center City Philadelphia’s Freire Charter Middle School and Freire Charter School Wilmington in Delaware – both high-performing college preparatory schools that serve low-income, majority-minority populations.
TECH Freire had the same core mission with some key differentiators. Its educational emphasis would be on computer science and entrepreneurship. However, where the other Freire network schools had a citywide reach, TECH Freire would serve as a neighborhood school and offer preference to students in a struggling part of north Philadelphia.
“Fifty percent of our students would come from the five poorest ZIP codes in Philadelphia,” said Freire CEO Kelly Davenport.
Davenport and her team located the property they wanted – a neglected 100-year-old building that had once served as a car showroom. She knew she needed to enlist Building Hope’s help just as she had in the past to be able to bridge the gap between the appraised value of the property and the loan necessary to complete renovations.
Davenport said she would never forget the call with Building Hope. “We don’t want to lend you $1 million. We want to put down $10 million to buy the building, get it in shape, and in five years, we want to give you the opportunity to buy it yourself,” she recalled.
Building Hope managed the entire renovation project, which included a new roof and sewage upgrades, and spent five years as the building’s landlord. As a nonprofit organization, Building Hope was able to offer highly favorable lease terms, allowing TECH Freire to invest more in its students. Just as TECH Freire surpassed its neighboring schools in standardized test scores, Building Hope helped the school’s leadership secure two private investors to carry the school forward and in 2019, TECH Freire purchased its forever home outright.