Friday, January 27, 2012

Andre Agassi Profiteering Off Charter School Mania

Tennis star Andre Agassi has partnered his Andre Agassi Ventures L.L.C. with Canyon Capital Realty Advisors, a private equity real estate company based in Los Angeles, to help charter schools purchase facilities. The joint venture, known as the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund, recently clinched their first deal, securing housing for the KIPP Philadelphia Elementary Academy, according to  

Agassi’s new fund is backed by numerous corporate investors, including Citi, Intel Capital, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Mo. The venture also plans to exploit New Market Tax Credits and tax-exempt bonds, allowing its investors to pocket money that the feds and states could be using to bolster public schools. However, the biggest profits may come from the lease payments from the schools and the eventual sales of the properties. KIPP Philadelphia, for example, has a “favorable” lease arrangement with Canyon-Agassi and has the right to buy the property outright from Canyon-Agassi in the future.

Agassi is not an education reform dilettante, but a profiteer. In 2001, he founded the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, and in 1994, at the age of 24, he created the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. His company has a large and immediate financial stake in the charter school facilities investments. He told Bloomberg News that for-profit investment deals were the best way to get charter schools built. When he called KIPP “the gold standard," he certainly must have meant gold in his pocket.

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