Environmental Charter Schools serve low-income communities in South LA

Community development investing |

Praxis invests in ECS to support Lawndale, Inglewood and Gardena

Environmental Charter Schools are a growing network of free public schools in underserved communities of South Los Angeles. ECS consists of three schools: ECHS-Lawndale, ECMS–Inglewood, and ECMS-Gardena.

ECMS-Gardena offers students a small caring school environment, supporting their transition from elementary school to a college preparatory high school.

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All Environmental Charter Schools aim to reimagine public education in low-income communities of color to prepare conscious, critical thinkers equipped to graduate from college and create a more equitable and sustainable world.

ECMS-Gardena was founded in 2010 with the purpose of serving the community of Gardena. No approved site was available during this time, however, so the school located in the neighboring city of Inglewood. Alison Suffet Diaz, ECS Founder and Executive Director, located the new site, where three existing buildings were converted to house the school.

Calvert Impact Capital’s participation in a Capital Impact Partners-led loan to the ECS Investment Fund facilitated the final stages of the conversion. The project was LEED Certified and consisted of a two-story 15,765-square-foot classroom building, a one-story 1,675-square-foot administrative office building and a 4,220-square-foot church building. In total, 26,749 square-feet were built, creating 15 classrooms to provide space for 360 students in grades 6-8, more than 88% of whom are eligible for the federal free or reduced-price meals program.

Two middle school students talking

ECMS-Inglewood began serving 180 new students for the 2013-14 school year after previous students moved to the Gardena location in May 2013. ECMS-Inglewood now serves 360 students and was named a Top Public School in 2019 for closing the achievement gap for low-income Latino students.

Praxis Mutual Funds® supports organizations such as ECS through investments in Calvert Impact Capital, an impact-investing institution that helps people around the world through community development financing. It’s part of the Praxis commitment to place approximately 1 percent of each of its funds to benefit neighborhoods and individuals through community development investments.

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Author Megan Bower
Marketing Intern

Community Development Investing

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