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Volume 24 No. 117

Sports in Society

Andre Agassi and Canyon Capital Realty Advisors Chair & CEO Bobby Turner are “launching the Canyon-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund, an investment group designed to help some of the nation's 5,400 charter schools and their 1.7 million students find permanent school buildings,” according to Jennifer Robinson of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. The partners “already have drawn investments from Citigroup and Intel, through its Intel Capital investment subsidiary.” The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a K.C.-based entrepreneurship think tank, has “signed on as well.” Canyon-Agassi execs said that they have “received commitments that, combined with a ‘moderate amount of leverage,’ will finance $500 million in new building or retrofitted space for 75 top-performing charters and 40,000 students nationwide.” The partnership's first deal “involves campus financing for the year-old KIPP Philadelphia Elementary Academy,” with the campus “scheduled to open in August.” The partners are “weighing other opportunities nationwide.” Agassi said that the fund's “investment model will spur billions of dollars in additional charter-school development and hundreds of thousands more charter-school seats once it's ‘fully executed and proven’ in three to four years.” Agassi: "The implications could be dynamic and conversation-changing." He said that the fund “will work with the top 10 percent of charter school performers and focus on markets with dense and diverse populations, relatively low real estate costs and fairly high per-pupil education funding.” Robinson notes few people are as "familiar with the intricacies of charter school development as Agassi." He “opened Agassi Prep in September 2001 with 150 students” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 6/2). Turner said, "We expect to attract investors who realize that making money and making societal change don't have to be mutually exclusive." In L.A., Roger Vincent notes another investor is former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan. Riordan said, "This is a way to make some money and help charter schools. Then the money I make I can give back to charity. It's sort of a way to have your cake and eat it too" (L.A. TIMES, 6/2).

DRIVING TO THE MIDWEST: In K.C., Randy Covitz reports former NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and his wife, Pattie, have “selected a new Wyandotte County site for their Victory Junction Midwest camp for chronically ill children.” The camp “will be built on 65 acres off Interstate 70 just east of Kansas Speedway,” and the Pettys “hope to have at least part of the camp open by 2014.” The facility is “expected to cost $35 million” (K.C. STAR, 6/2).