Annual Report | 2015



Annual Report | 2015

We build public charter

school buildings for

students in neighborhoods

where the need is greatest.

We are improving education,

revitalizing communities,

and changing lives.



Letter from the Board Chairman and CEO

Standing at the corner of 104th Street and 2nd Avenue in East Harlem, you

will see the newly completed DREAM Charter School and the nearly

completed East Harlem Scholars Academy (EHSA) growing from the

ground up. DREAM bustles with activity as over 450 students in grades K-8

come here each morning for school. When EHSA’s new building is

complete in 2016, it will be a learning hub for 400 students. That’s over 800

Civic Builders student seats in one city block.

Civic Builders is proud to make these educational experiences possible for

students in East Harlem and beyond. In 2015, we opened three new charter

schools: DREAM Charter School in East Harlem, Blackstone Valley Prep

Middle School in Rhode Island, and Great Oaks Charter High School in

Newark. These schools make space for over 1,000 students in high-need

communities to receive the education they deserve.

At Civic Builders, we believe real estate should never be a barrier to an

excellent education. We find the areas where charter school growth is

needed most, and develop facilities that are tailored to each school’s

unique spatial and educational needs. Our impact is not confined to the

classroom. Every dollar we invest in schools not only benefits students,

but also pays dividends to the traditionally underserved communities

where we focus our work. New buildings help to breathe new life into

blighted landscapes. New schools bring jobs. And, education breeds hope.

Years of disinvestment in certain neighborhoods means that basic

community infrastructure such as public school buildings, libraries, and

parks are often in disrepair. Within these neighborhoods, and around the

country, there is a collective of educators who believe that a different life is

possible. These educators know that with high-quality education every

student can live up to their full potential, and transform the neighborhoods

in which they live. But finding and developing the space needed for schools

is a major hurdle. Civic Builders is prepared to help school leaders bridge

that barrier.

As we look forward to 2016, we will stay true to our flagship development

approach of serving the charter school sector, while also expanding our

services to keep pace with the rapid growth within the sector. We spent the

past year completing a thoughtful strategic planning process culminating

in the launch of a new 5-year plan for growth and impact.

With your help we can make high-quality education a reality for all

students for years to come.


Brahm Cramer

Board Chairman, Civic Builders

David Umansky

CEO, Civic Builders



Charter Schools

A recent study by the Center for

Research on Educational Outcomes at

Stanford University found that charter

schools do a better job than traditional

schools at teaching low- income

students, minority students, and

students who are still learning English.



3 schools



new student spaces

totaling 11,000

Civic Builders seats



Innovative 5-Year plan

developed and launched

to facilitate the growth

of the public charter

school sector



Targeted Community Impact

Civic Builders strategically invests in

communities where the growth of

high-quality school options is needed









In 2015, Civic Builders'

scholars outperformed

peer district schools by an

average of 11 points in

Math and ELA.


Blackstone Valley Prep Middle School

BVP’s mission is to prepare every scholar for college and the world beyond.

› 31,000 Square Feet

› 325 Students

› Grades 5-8

Blackstone Valley Prep (BVP) Middle School is part of the Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academies, a network of

high-performing charter schools in Rhode Island. Civic Builders has supported BVP's success for several years:

opening an elementary school and middle school and now partnering to secure a permanent home for the BVP high


In 2014, with the help of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Civic Builders purchased a former Catholic school

building and completed renovations to be ready for students in August 2015. Although the building was architecturally

beautiful, it needed significant work to bring it up to par with all of the other schools in BVP’s network. On August 31st,

325 middle school students walked into a newly renovated building.

With the help of Civic Builders, BVP is able to provide its students continuity in their educational experience, from

elementary school all the way through to high school graduation. The importance of this continuity is reflected in BVP’s

educational success. In 2015, BVP High School and Elementary School 2 were named Commended Schools by the

Rhode Island Department of Education and were the only 2 out of the 17 honored to serve a predominantly low-income

student population. BVP High School was the only high school in the state to receive this commendation.


Harlem RBI DREAM Charter School

DREAM Charter School’s mission is to provide inner-city youth with opportunities to play, learn and grow. They use

the power of teams to coach, teach and inspire youth to recognize their potential and realize their dreams.

› 55,000 Square Feet

› 450 Students

› Grades PK-8

When DREAM Charter School opened the doors to its new school building for the first time last August, students

walked into the first new public school building to open in East Harlem in over 30 years.

The school represents a major accomplishment for Civic Builders. The site is not only home to DREAM Charter

School where 450 more students will receive an incredible education, but it is also home to much needed resources

available to the entire East Harlem community: a community space, a medical facility, a renovated city park and

affordable housing units.

To make this project a reality, Civic Builders worked in collaboration with several major institutions, including the

NYC Housing Authority, NYC School Construction Authority, NYC Department of Education, NYC Parks Department,

and many others. Civic Builders' ability to work in combination with these agencies is paramount to the success of a

project of this scale.

This mixed-use approach to urban school development represents an innovative model of Civic Builders' work, one

that looks at the overall health of the community, and creates solutions to long-standing problems. Now, at DREAM

Charter School, students and their families have everything they need to succeed in one place.


Great Oaks Newark High School

The mission of the Great Oaks Foundation is to launch and support a network of charter schools that prepare

students for college success through high-dosage tutoring.

› 36,400 Square Feet

› 310 Students

› Grades 9-12

When Great Oaks Newark High School began its partnership with Civic Builders, the school had already moved facilities

once. With only a short-term lease at its new facility, the school desperately needed a long-term solution but lacked the

necessary resources. To address this need, Civic Builders bought the property from the school’s landlord and entered a

long-term lease with the school, including an option to eventually purchase the facility.

With the stability of a long-term space, Great Oaks educators can continue to focus on preparing students for college. Great

Oaks believes every student has the ability to succeed at a competitive four-year university, regardless of their background.

To ensure that their students excel, Great Oaks pairs students with tutors. In small groups, the tutors offer personalized

learning, so that any skill gaps are sealed without falling behind.

Civic Builders is also completing renovations and capital improvements to provide the school with a regulation-sized

gymnasium. All too often, inner-city students don’t have access to adequate recreational space. Physical activity in schools

promotes fitness, self-confidence, and healthy habits. Civic Builders is pleased to offer students at Great Oaks a

transformative space to play and learn.


Our Approach


› Lack of access to affordable capital is a significant barrier for charter


› To help fill the gap in funding resources, Civic Builders sources New

Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) and US DOE Credit Enhancement.

› NMTCs and US DOE Credit Enhancement have been critical to the

development of several charter schools in our portfolio.

Development and Construction

› Civic Builders works with school leaders to understand their space needs

and unique educational philosophy so that educators can focus on

instruction and fulfilling a school's mission.

› Civic Builders shepherds a school through every stage of the building

process, from finding and purchasing the right property, to developing the

space along a set timeline, to navigating any complexities that accompany

projects of this scale.

› In high-demand areas like Harlem and the South Bronx, Civic Builders

actively scouts and purchases buildings to quickly and affordably develop

space for schools when their need is immediate.

Growing High-Quality Schools

› Educational inequality is one of the most pressing social issues of our time. All

across America, students in low-income communities aren’t receiving the

education they deserve, which leaves them under prepared to enter college and

compete in the workforce.

› For many students, charter schools offer the chance for a high-quality education.

› Civic Builders knows that by connecting school leaders to the resources they

need, we can accelerate the growth of charter schools in New York City and

beyond, creating seats for the million students nationwide who are on waiting lists.


About Us

Civic Builders was founded in 2002 to address the immediate need for charter

school facilities in New York City and the Northeast. We are comprised of a

multi-talented team from the real estate, finance, and education sectors. Together,

our team handles every detail of the facilities development process, including

financing, design, and construction. Our mission is simple: real estate should never

be a barrier to an excellent education. Since our founding we have developed 21

schools, serving over 11,000 students in under-resourced communities such as

East Harlem, the South Bronx, and Bedford-Stuyvesant. We have developed over a

million square feet of real estate and invested more than $600M into the

communities we serve. Our expertise in bringing schools online allows educators to

do what they do best: provide an excellent education to students in high-need

communities, expanding opportunities for generations to come.


Civic Schools








Bronx Charter School for the Arts

Excellence Boys Charter School of Bedford-Stuyvesant

Bronx Lighthouse Charter School

Democracy Prep Harlem Middle School

New Heights Academy Charter School

Achievement First Endeavor Charter School

Icahn Charter School 2








North Star Academy College Preparatory High School

Hyde Leadership Charter School

Harlem Village Academies High School

Urban Dove TEAM Charter School

PAVE Academy Charter School

HCZ Promise Academy Charter School

Harlem RBI/DREAM Charter School








Brilla College Preparatory Charter School

East Harlem Scholars Academy Charter School

Heketi Community Charter School

Blackstone Valley Prep Elementary School 2


Blackstone Valley Prep Middle School 1

Great Oaks Newark High School



Charter School Performance

Civic Builders’ schools routinely

outperform their sending districts on

standardized testing with 98% of Civic

Builders’ scholars graduating high

school and 91% advancing on to college.



My school allowed me to

strive for better things and

push myself past the

standards set for a minority.

My school has enabled and

encouraged me to branch

out and strive for success in

college and in life.

- Jose Martinez -

Class of 2015

New Heights Academy Charter School



Aggregate Balance Sheet*

2015 2014 2013

Unrestricted Cash

$ 13,549,318

$ 12,789,914

$ 7,075,588

Restricted Cash

$ 17,283,314

$ 23,357,368

$ 33,319,427


$ 682,080

$ 802,307

$ 3,009,578

Fixed Assets

$ 65,188,993

$ 61,251,226

$ 42,738,390

Total Assets

$ 96,703,705

$ 98,200,815

$ 86,142,983

Current Liabilities

$ 831,209

$ 1,241,453

$ 4,839,374

Long-term Liabilities

$ 67,712,563

$ 73,137,884

$ 58,544,376

Net Assets

$ 28,159,933

$ 23,821,478

$ 22,759,233

Total Liabilities and

Net Assets

$ 96,703,705

$ 98,200,815

$ 86,142,983

* Aggregate Balance Sheet includes Civic Builders, Inc., subsidiaries, affiliates, and unrelated sponsored entities.

This presentation does not conform with GAAP; audited financial statements are available upon request.



Katie Scialabba


Cody Raisig

Anna-Marie Kellen

Albert Vecerka/Esto

Paúl Rivera


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