News and Updates

Borrower Spotlight: Hoboken Charter School Inspires its Students and Strengthens the Surrounding Community

August was a busy month for New Jersey Community Capital’s lending department. In this month alone, NJCC successfully closed more than $6.7 million in loans to support three charter schools located in Asbury Park, Jersey City, and Hoboken. These three transactions are providing nearly 1,000 families with the choice to access a quality education while strengthening the surrounding communities—accomplishments that make us very proud and that are central to our mission of transforming at-risk communities through strategic investments of capital and knowledge.

“Schools have always played a vital role in a community’s well-being,” said Joe Palazzolo, NJCC’s Team Leader for Education and Early Care. “Charter schools provide a unique opportunity to promote innovative, quality education while at the same time serving as community-based institutions providing both stabilization and positive change to their neighborhoods. New Jersey Community Capital’s extensive work in this area speaks to our strong belief in supporting charter schools that serve their surrounding communities and share our mission.”

Hoboken Charter School purchased the former Academy of the Sacred Heart building in Hoboken, New Jersey. Image courtesy of the Friends of Hoboken Charter School.

The Hoboken Charter School is a prime example of a charter school that is inspiring children and enhancing the lives of residents in the community. Ranked as one of the top charter schools in the nation since it opened its doors in 1998, Hoboken Charter School serves a high percentage of special needs and low-income students in grades K-12 from the City of Hoboken and surrounding districts. The school provides these children the opportunity to learn in a supportive environment where rigorous academics, arts literacy, and personal and civic growth are fostered. This formula for achievement is yielding positive results, with the school consistently exceeding State standards and repeatedly earning national recognition for its student achievement, innovation, and accountability.

NJCC provided the Friends of Hoboken Charter School with a $3.9 million acquisition loan which enabled them to secure ownership of a former Catholic High School site that the school had been renting since last year. Prior to occupying this building, the school rented space from a variety of organizations in different locations. NJCC’s financing gave Hoboken Charter School the capacity to preserve this building’s rich architectural structure while creating a state-of-the-art learning environment that supports its high standards for academic excellence and personal responsibility.

“Thanks to New Jersey Community Capital’s financial backing, the Hoboken Charter School finally has the permanent home we always dreamed could be ours,” said Helen A. Cunning, former Hoboken councilwoman and past president of the Hoboken Charter School Board. “This purchase further solidifies Hoboken Charter School as a leader in progressive education and this beautiful, architecturally impressive site mirrors the academic achievements happening in our classrooms. We are most grateful to NJCC and, especially, Joe Palazzolo for his outstanding guidance and support.”

Despite NJCC’s commitment to this project, this transaction would not have been possible without the support of Opportunity Finance Network (OFN). By purchasing a 48.8% participation in the loan, OFN provided NJCC with the additional capital needed to make this loan a reality.

“OFN is glad to have participated in this loan with our long-time partner New Jersey Community Capital,” said Wanda Speight, Executive Vice President of Financial Services at OFN. “We are always looking for new ways to support the work of our Members. OFN is especially pleased to be able to support the community through helping finance the Hoboken Charter School, which provides another area school option to local parents and great educational opportunities to so many deserving students.”

Hoboken Charter School’s new permanent facility complements the school’s service learning and community-based curriculum, which is central to its educational philosophy. The school encourages learning beyond the walls of the classroom by engaging students in civic projects in the community. Now with a permanent home, Hoboken Charter is an anchor in the community, with its students encouraged to make even deeper and more meaningful connections to the surrounding neighborhoods. It is this bridge between school and community that makes this charter school such a commanding influence for lasting change.

“Since New Jersey Community Capital began lending to charter schools seven years ago, the organization has closed or participated in more than $47 million in direct charter school financing, leveraging over $123 million in development costs for 23 charter school campuses across New Jersey,” continued Palazzolo. “We are honored to play a leading role in providing nearly 6,650 New Jersey families access to exceptional educational curricula like the one provided by the Hoboken Charter School. We work hard to identify charter school partners who will play a key role in our holistic, sustainable community development efforts.”

Don DePascale, Educational Consultant for Hoboken Charter School, added, “Closing this transaction truly was the Miracle on Washington Street!”