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Andre Agassi Launches Charter School Fund

Las Vegas, U.S.A.

Agassi© Getty ImagesAgassi's charity has raised more than $40 million to fund the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas.

Ten years ago, Andre Agassi opened his own charter school, the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in his native Las Vegas, with grades 3-5. But it wasn’t without extensive work, as Agassi’s charity, The Andre Agassi Charitable Fund, had to raise more than $40 million to fund the campus. Now, Agassi’s vision has become a life-changing reality, as the academy has expanded to a K-12 school, with its inaugural class graduating in 2009.

With this success, Agassi and his partners have devised a greater idea, one that would impact students across the country. The eight-time major champion is partnering with Bobby Turner, chairman and chief executive of Canyon Capital Realty Advisors, a Los Angeles-based real estate investment firm, to finance facilities that would house charter schools. The two announced Thursday the plan to back the construction or remodeling of 75 top performing charter schools, serving more than 40,000 students, through the launch of the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund.

The fund is a for-profit venture, a unique opportunity for investors to earn a financial return while also supporting education. It’s already backed by Citibank, Intel Capital, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. “This is a way to make some money and help charter schools," Riordan disclosed to the Los Angeles Times.

Charter schools are generally open to the public, but don’t have the authority to tap into property tax revenue to fund property construction. That’s where the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund comes into play. The fund will use investors' money to build schools and then lease them out to its recipients; charters will later have the option to purchase the buildings through low-interest, tax-exempt loans after developing sustainable programs. “What our fund does is provide a bridge to ownership,” Turner told the Los Angeles Times.

The fund’s first campus is scheduled to open in August in a former industrial building in North Philadelphia’s Allegheny West community. Future beneficiaries will be selected based on school performance, real-estate costs, the density and diversity of population and the per-pupil education funding. Agassi’s dedication to improving educational opportunities for at risk children is a testament of his own life experience. “I am a ninth-grade dropout,” Agassi admitted to the Lost Angeles Times. “I turned pro at 16 and felt profoundly throughout my life the results of my education.”

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Andre Agassi, Off Court, Charity

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