Marion P. Thomas Charter School Commences Construction of New Facility

Marion P. Thomas Charter School (MPTCS), the largest independently operated African-American led public charter school in Newark, is partnering with Goldman Sachs, through its Urban Investment Group, Prudential Insurance Company of America and New Jersey Community Loan Fund to finance the construction of a new state-of-the-art high school facility.   The largest minority-lead construction project in New Jersey, the project is a key component of the revitalization efforts associated with the Broad Street Station Redevelopment Area in Newark’s Central Ward. Construction of the new facility began in June and Marion P. Thomas Charter High School will welcome students in the fall of 2015.

MPTCS, which has been educating Newark youth in prekindergarten through 8th grade for over 15 years, officially merged with Visions Academy Charter High School on July 1, 2014, which led to the establishment of the Marion P. Thomas Charter High School.  The new entity offers a “crayons to college” experience for Newark youth.

The Marion P. Thomas Charter High School will continue Visions Academy’s strong focus on college and career readiness while introducing a concentration on the arts.  In addition to completing a challenging college preparatory curriculum, students will have an option to major in either performing or culinary arts.  The school’s focus on the arts will benefit the community, as the new high school facility will feature a black box theater and a state of the art culinary learning facility with dining space, both of which will be used for community events and functions during non-school hours.  The arts theme draws upon Newark’s rich history of fostering and supporting African American artists.

Congressman Donald Payne Jr. has been a major supporter of this project.  “I am delighted to welcome the construction of a new Marion P. Thomas Charter High School and am especially proud that it will be the largest minority-led construction facility in New Jersey.  The construction will revitalize the community by creating many new good jobs and will provide our youngsters with the kind of educational opportunities that will help shape the community for decades to come.  This invigorating project will have a direct impact on our city not only now but well into the city’s future, and its construction will serve as a reminder of Newark’s rich history of African American music, culinary, and performing arts.  I commend Goldman Sachs, the Prudential Insurance Company of America and the New Jersey Community Loan Fund for their support of this project and for investing in the future of Newark.”

Marjorie Perry of MZM Construction will work with various organizations to insure that local businesses and individuals benefit from this construction project.  “As a woman born and raised in Newark, I am proud to serve as the Owner’s Representative for the construction phase of Marion P. Thomas Charter School’s new high school facility.  Given that the school’s students, staff, and community are predominantly African American, we have collaborated with the school to ensure that minority workers and businesses are significantly involved throughout the construction process.  The new school will further cement MPTCS’ status as one of the educational pillars of our community,” said Marjorie Perry.

Goldman Sachs made a $15 million senior loan to help finance the new Marion P. Thomas Charter School building through its Social Impact Fund, a first of its kind direct impact-investing vehicle which seeks to provide Goldman Sachs’ clients with access to “double bottom line” investments that can provide both a financial return and measurable social impact.

“A new Marion P. Thomas Charter School facility will allow more students in Newark to access a high-quality education in a state-of-the-art building that will also shape and strengthen the neighborhood,” said Margaret Anadu, Managing Director in the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group.  “We are pleased to collaborate with strong public, private and non-profit partners to develop this project, which will boost student achievement in Newark and complement the work that the Urban Investment Group has done to help revitalize the city over the past 5 years.”

Prudential is providing $10 million in debt to finance the construction of the new high school facility. Similar to other recent charter school deals that Prudential has financed, this project features Qualified School Construction Bonds, which provide a quarterly cash subsidy to the school to offset debt service. In total, the school will benefit from an annual subsidy of $1.7 million which will halve the per pupil occupancy cost from its current level of $2,400 to $1,200; which provides enough savings to hire 25 new teachers.

“Schools are at the core of neighborhoods, providing not only an education for children, but also adding to the vitality of the community,” said Lata Reddy, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility and president of The Prudential Foundation at Prudential. “Prudential is delighted to support the building of this new facility that will transform a vacant site into a vibrant school and community center.”  This is Prudential’s second investment benefiting MPTCS. In 2006, Prudential closed a $2.75 million New Markets Tax Credit transaction to finance the acquisition and renovation of MPTCS’s current elementary school located on S. 7th Street; which continues to serve the school’s needs and will not be altered with the new construction.

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