Charter School Application Process

Charter schools are independent public schools of choice for parents and students

The first charter school in the nation opened in Minnesota in 1992 and charter schools continue to be a popular choice for students seeking an alternative to traditional public schools. Teachers, parents and others begin charter schools when they see an educational need and want to design a school to meet that need. The primary purpose of a charter school is to improve all pupil learning and all student achievement.

Additional purposes include:

  1. Increase learning opportunities for all pupils
  2. Encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods
  3. Measure learning outcomes and create different and innovative forms of measuring outcomes
  4. Establish new forms of accountability for schools
  5. Create new professional opportunities for teachers, including the opportunity to be responsible for the learning program at the school site.

Charter schools employ Minnesota licensed teachers, offer services to special needs students and require students to take state and national tests to assure academic accountability and improvement. Charter schools are open to all, do not charge tuition and have no admission requirements to enroll.

An individual or group of individuals interested in starting a charter school are invited to apply to VOA-MN for authorization per state charter school statute.

To apply to VOA-MN, applications must:

  • Have Certificates of Attendance at the required VOA-MN Pre-Application Meeting. The required meeting will be a half day and a minimum of three board members listed on the application must participate. The meeting will be offered in December with the specific date yet to be determined.
  • Contain a minimum of five founding board members, including at least one Minnesota licensed teacher.
  • Demonstrate alignment to the VOA-MN Charter Authorizing Program mission and vision.
  • Contain a well-defined service learning component.

Application deadline: Developers must submit an application to VOA-MN by January 15th of each calendar year.

Application submission: Applicants must submit four paper copies and one electronic copy (in the form of a PDF) to the VOA-MN Charter School Authorizing Program — 924 19th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55404 and


VOA-MN utilizes peer reviewers made up of experts in the field that review the application materials guided by the Application Review Rubric. No peer reviewer will be selected that may have a real or perceived conflict of interest with regard to the review of the application (e.g., employee of an existing school that is reasonably close geographical proximity to the applying school). Once the initial peer desk review is completed, applicants and peer reviewers will participate in the interview process. The applicant interview focuses on school alignment with the charter school authorizing program’s vision and mission, the educational and financial viability of the proposal and the developing group's capacity to implement an idea into a reality. VOA-MN may request follow-up materials prior to the interview process in order to further assess the quality of the application and developing team.

Application preference will be given to:

  • Applicants with the majority of board members who have strong grassroots ties to the anticipated location of school development.
  • Applicants replicating a successful charter school model and leadership representation on the board from the school being replicated.
  • Applicants who plan to serve students grades K-12.