$500,000 FCLF FINANCING (2 loans)
K-8 Charter School Serving up to 425 Students
"Emma Jewel Charter Academy is truly blessed to have the opportunity to parner with Florida Community Loan Fund. FCLF staff shares our vision and commitment to serve needy families and provide a high quality education to all children." – Thomas Cole, Founder and Principal, Emma Jewel Charter Academy
The historic Monroe Center school building in Brevard County has frequently been vacant and sometimes even boarded up off and on for decades. In this low-income area of the county, part of the Diamond Square Redevelopment District, there is a need for a community-based school that will instill a passion for learning and a strong desire to nurture family and community and provide a one-stop community center for area residents.
The Emma Jewel Charter Academy, EJCA, came together as an organization in 2011 with a goal of re-opening this shuttered school building and offering tuition-free quality education to up to 500 students in this primarily low-income area of Cocoa where the poverty rate is 54% and median income is 33% of the area median. The mission of EJCA is to instill within each child a passion for learning, a desire to nurture their family members, friends, and their community. Its motto is “Helping the Village Raise the Child.” Its founder and principal, Thomas Cole, has over 20 years of experience in charter schools and, as a former long-time resident who has recently returned to the area, knows the need for a school that will empower students to become lifelong learners, problem solvers, and have a positive impact in their community.
With financing through Florida Community Loan Fund (FCLF) and Building Hope…A Charter School Facilities Fund, Emma Jewel Charter School renovated the existing school building into classroom space, a cafeteria and a media center/art room. Renovations included new air conditioning and ducts, carpet and tile, electrical and plumbing, restrooms, paint, and will include an ADA-accessible playground and a sports field. The school opened in the 2013-14 school year with 200 students; as of 2017-18 enrollment is 353, and is projected to continue to expand over the next five years to an enrollment of 425 in grades K-8. There is excitement in the community as this project moves forward, with full support from Brevard County and the City of Cocoa. Additional funding is available through a CDBG Award, upon completion of the renovation, and a contribution from the Brevard County Commissioners’ Office.
A second loan from FCLF and Building Hope in 2018 enabled Emma Jewel Charter Academy to renovate another formerly vacant building on the campus; adding 3,000 usable square feet to include 4 classrooms and an office. This renovation allows existing space to be converted into a VPK classroom, which had not been possible due to space limitations.
In addition to providing a charter school in a low-income redevelopment area, this project is providing an estimated 135 temporary jobs during construction and 35 permanent jobs.
Pictured at top, Renovated Administration Building August 2013.
Above right, Emma Jewel Charter Academy Ribbon Cutting August 2013.
Below left, rendering of completed campus.
Below right, School building pre-renovation..