Charter Schools


Through rigorous strategic planning processes and analyses of school performance across Buffalo, the Cullen Foundation prioritized improving access to high-quality schools for historically underserved populations. Since 2015, Cullen has committed to dramatically increasing the number of seats in high-quality schools serving primarily economically disadvantaged students across Buffalo via four primary investment strategies:

  1. Replicating and growing proven high-performing charter schools
  2. Incubating new high-performing charter schools
  3. Supporting the academic growth of promising charter schools
  4. Investing in human capital pipelines that meet the needs of Buffalo schools


In 2023, after months of planning with schools, Cullen replaced its annual charter responsive grant round with a three-year plan to engage charters in cohorts to work on these specific issues:

  • Early Literacy – Curricular Supports
  • Early Literacy – Tutoring
  • Talent (Teacher recruitment and retention)
  • Early College


13 charter schools are currently engaged in the four cohorts, working with expert facilitators and Cullen to formulate plans to improve K-3 reading, teacher diversity and retention, and college preparation in their schools. This work will continue in lieu of annual funding responsive grant cycles in 2024 and 2025. The following schools are participating in these cohorts:

Although Cullen will not conduct annual responsive grant cycles in 2024 and 2025, special funding may be available when opportunities align with our strategic goals. Please contact Nick Schifano at: [email protected].


From 2016 to 2023, Cullen awarded strategic grants to the following charter schools to support their efforts to replicate:

In addition, Cullen awarded strategic grants to Building Excellent Schools in 2016 and 2018.