Faith Academy awarded $600,000 grant, will buy materials for students

Published 12:10 am Thursday, July 15, 2021

FAITH — Faith Academy has been awarded a $600,000 federal grant to make purchases that directly benefit students.

The grant, part of the state’s Advancing Charter Collaboration and Excellence for Student Success program, is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s grant programs for public charter schools. Preliminary plans for the funding are to purchase curriculum materials, devices, training materials, phonics and literacy activities. Faith Academy administrator Sarah Hensley said the grant will help the school provide quality materials for the students.

The school’s award was recommended to the State Board of Education last week along with a handful of other charters. Hensley said she had to apply to be invited to apply for the grant in the first place, but she was still surprised to receive the award.

“If I got any money, it would have been more money than I had,” said Hensley, who’s spinning many plates in launching a charter school and hiring dozens of staff. “I am very pleased.”

Faith Academy was awarded a charter by the state board in January and will open for its first year of classes, serving grande K-7, on Aug. 23. The charter has enrolled about 500 students, immediately outgrowing the former Faith Elementary School property it purchased from Rowan-Salisbury Schools. Mobile classrooms will be installed on site this month so the school will have all the classroom space it needs.

Hensley said the grant is targeted to help children who may be disadvantaged. The school knows who its students are, but it will be able to create a final report on its population after classes start in August.

Hensley said she was invited to apply in May. The application was about 6 inches thick and scored by state grant readers. The school on July 8 received a letter confirming it would be a grant recipient.

Hensley said she will meet with state officials again next week to review budgeting rules for the funding. She is not sure how much will be paid out year-to-year yet.

Getting this amount of funding in a grant was a new experience for Hensley, who retired from Rowan-Salisbury Schools as an administrator.

“I have applied for grants my whole career, but never one like this,” Hensley said.

At the state level, the grant was funded at $36.6 million to be paid out in 60 grants over five years. The grants first were awarded in 2019. So far, forty-two grants have been awarded.

According the program administration, the awards for individual grantees can total up to $1.25 million. A stated goal of the program is to increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students attending “high-quality charter schools and expand the number of high-quality charter schools available to educationally disadvantaged students.”

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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