DC International 

DC International

A complex solution

The renovation of DC International’s unique facility—at a former military installation—required the kind of wide-ranging expertise that only Building Hope could provide.

Building Hope’s Role:

Financing | Real Estate Development | School Services

Location: Washington, DC
Grades Served: 6-12
Number of Students: 1,300
Square feet of space created: 175,000
Year completed: 2017

They understand!

They understand charter schools and making them work: They have the pulse on everything!

Mary Shaffner
Executive Director, DC International School

A Historic Military Facility Becomes a Public Charter School

DC International (DCI), a unique charter school in the nation’s capital, was also getting a unique—and expensive—facility. It needed expert help.

An International Baccalaureate (IB) World School, DCI was created when five charter elementary schools joined forces to extend their language-immersion curricula into grades 6–12. “It’s a first-of-its-kind collaboration; nobody else in the country has done it,” says DCI Executive Director Mary Shaffner. “It required a lot of work, but it happened.” 

It opened in 2014 at a temporary facility. For its permanent home, the school pursued another first of its kind: Delano Hall, a 135,000-square-foot military dormitory on the decommissioned Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus. It required remodeling on an unprecedented scale.

For that, DCI looked to Building Hope.

“They understand charter schools and making them work,” says Shaffner. “They have the pulse on everything!”

First, Building Hope advised DCI on acquisition, working with the Army, the District of Columbia, and DCI’s board. In the meantime Building Hope provided support for a temporary facility.

At Delano Hall, Building Hope managed every aspect of a $60 million gut renovation. The completed facility features 85 classrooms and a 40,000-square-foot expansion that includes a gym, a theater, science labs, and art studios. DCI was able to move in, as planned, for the 2017-18 school year.

With Building Hope’s help, DCI has had spectacular success. The DC Public Charter School Board rates it as a Tier 1 school. It currently serves 1,300 students—among the city’s most diverse enrollments—with the longest waitlist of any DC public charter school.

Building Hope also manages DCI’s accounting. In 2019, we served as the school’s financial advisor on long-term bond financing, saving DCI about $100,000 a month.


Campus expanded from 135,000 square feet (in the original building) to 175,000 (with extension)

Building Hope assisted in a mortgage refinance that took DCI from a 6.7% interest rate to 3.26%.

Could not have had a better solution

It’s great working with Building Hope. I don’t think we could have had a better solution.

Mary Shaffner
Executive Director, DC International School

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