The Freire Schools network thought Building Hope would be a credit enhancer for the network’s third school. Building Hope had something else in mind: TECH Freire’s independence.
Building Hope’s Role:
Finance & Real Estate Development
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Grades Served: 9-12
Number of Students: 500
Square feet of space created: 49,000
Year completed: 2016
It couldn't have been better.
It was heaven working with them. 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.
CEO, TECH Freire Schools
Facility Freedom in the Cradle of Liberty
When TECH Freire was in its early stages in 2014, Building Hope had already partnered with the Freire Schools network on two of its three existing school facilities. Building Hope had provided credit enhancement for Center City Philadelphia’s Freire Charter Middle School and for Delaware’s Freire Charter School Wilmington: both high-performing college-preparatory schools serving low-income, majority-minority populations.
TECH Freire has the same core mission, but with key differences. Its educational emphasis is on computer science and entrepreneurship. Unlike the other Freire charters which have citywide reaches, TECH Freire is a neighborhood school that offer preference to students in struggling north Philadelphia. “Fifty percent of our students come from the five poorest ZIP codes in Philadelphia.,” says Freire CEO Kelly Davenport.
Davenport had found the building she wanted, a badly neglected 100-year-old building that had once been a car showroom. She expected Building Hope to play the same role it had in the past: to bridge the gap between the appraised value and the loan necessary to renovate the building.
“They turned around and said, ‘We don’t want to lend you a million dollars, Kelly,’” Davenport recalls. ”We want to put down ten million to buy the building, get it in shape, and in five years, we want to give you the opportunity to buy it yourself.’”
Building Hope managed the turnkey renovation, including a new roof and sewage upgrades; spent five years as the landlord (with highly favorable lease terms, enabled by our nonprofit status); secured two private investors to carry the school forward; and in December 2019—just as TECH Freire surpassed its neighboring schools in standardized test scores—sold them the building outright.
SPACE MAKES A DIFFERENCE
TECH Freire’s student population is 100% free and reduced lunch.
They currently have a 2,000 students on their waiting list.
Expertise and know-how
It was heaven working with them. 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.
CEO, TECH Freire, Philadelphia, PA