Agassi backs charter school facilities fund

LOS ANGELES — Tennis champion Andre Agassi has helped create a real estate fund intended to pump $500 million into building charter public schools across the United States, according to a report in Bloomberg News.

Agassi worked with Canyon Capital Realty Advisers LLC to create the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund, the report said. Plans call for using the fund to develop more than 75 urban campuses with space for 40,000 students within four years, according to Bloomberg.

The fund will develop facilities for charter school managers, lease them to school operators and ultimately allow the schools to purchase the campuses, Bloomberg reported. The fund is the first for-profit investment vehicle dedicated to building charter schools, with investors expected to receive a return based on the rental and sales income, according to the report.

A lack of new facilities is one of the greatest obstacles to charter school growth, Bobby Turner, chairman of Canyon Capital, told Bloomberg. Charter schools also have no taxing authority, the report said.

The new fund will “allow us to access traditional capital,” Agassi, 41, told Bloomberg. He founded the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a charter school in Las Vegas, in 2001. “Philanthropic efforts just aren’t scalable ? philanthropy doesn’t scale.”

Bloomberg reported that University of Michigan regents have approved a $15 million investment in the fund.

Agassi, who won eight Grand Slam titles during a 20-year career, told Bloomberg that for-profit investment vehicles like the Canyon-Agassi fund are the best way to get charter schools built quickly.

Bloomberg News, “Andre Agassi Forms Charter-School Fund With Canyon Capital,” June 2, 2011

Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Charter School Demand Continues to Rise,” Feb. 8, 2010