Helping America's most vulnerable™

Charter School Authorizing

Hope through high quality school choice

Charter School Authorizing provides Minnesota students with high quality choices in public education through our portfolio of high-performing charter schools and is a model of excellence in authorizing throughout the state and nation.

The VOA-MN Charter School Authorizing Program is not accepting applications for any new charter schools or change of authorizer requests. VOA-MN does not plan to increase our number of authorized charter schools.

Our Bemidji charter school was recently recognized by StarTribune as their American Indian students excel and outperform their peers statewide

Our mission

Volunteers of America—Minnesota (VOA-MN) Charter School Authorizing Program guides its authorized charter schools to improve all pupil learning and all student achievement with service to others.

Our vision

Volunteers of America-Minnesota (VOA-MN) Charter School Authorizing Program envisions a society composed of all students achieving maximum learning while serving others

About the service



Volunteers of America of Minnesota was the first non-profit charter school authorizer in the nation. Charter school authorizers are responsible for monitoring the academic financial, and managerial performance of authorized schools and for holding them accountable for the performance outcomes contained in their charter. While we are not directly responsible for the ultimate success or failure of charter schools we authorize, we can have a major impact on outcomes by providing strong oversight, accountability and resources to help them succeed.

Volunteers of America of Minnesota practices a model of charter school authorizership that goes beyond the compliance-based role outlined in state statute. We engage in proactive relationships and add value to the schools with which we work. During the start-up phase, Volunteers of America of Minnesota works closely with school founding groups to ensure that tasks necessary to a successful opening are accomplished in a timely manner. Once operational, Volunteers of America of Minnesota vigilantly monitors the financial, governance and academic performance of its schools through frequent communication and site visits and regular review of financial and program documents. When signs of trouble arise, we work closely with the school's board to problem solve and identify resources that may be helpful.

Service benefits



As a leading authorizer, Volunteers of America-Minnesota strives to ensure the success of each of its schools through a unique system of accountability that begins even before a school opens its doors. Schools authorized by Volunteers of America-Minnesota enjoy:

  • Pre-opperational support provided via a detailed checklist designed to walk new schools through the processes of developing their learning program, reaching out to potential students, securing facilities, creating appropriate financial management and governance policies, and ensuring compliance with the law. This emphasis on a strong foundation prepares schools to meet Volunteers of America–Minnesota's ready-to-open requirements.
  • Cooperative oversight, which respects the charter school promise of increased autonomy in return for increased accountability, is ongoing. Volunteers of America-Minnesota performs a number of oversight duties including: attending board meetings, reviewing monthly financial statements and board minutes, conducting several formal and informal site visits throughout the year, monitoring academic performance through accountability plans, reviewing annual reports and audits, evaluating schools annually and prior to contract renewal, and intervening as needed
  • The Charter School Network promotes relationships between schools and the larger charter school community by creating professional development opportunities for participants—whether as a board member, school leader, or community member. Being authorized by Volunteers of America– Minnesota means being a part of a network of schools that meets annually, shares ideas on effective educational and operational strategies, and broadens individuals' understanding of the charter school community throughout Minnesota.
  • Encouragement and recognition of success through the Volunteers of America–Minnesota Excellence Awards. These awards are given each year to the Volunteers of America– Minnesota-authorized charter schools that show the highest quality results in the following areas: Excellence in Educational Learning Program, Excellence in Financial Management and Oversight, and Excellence in School Board Governance
For more information, contact Stephanie Olsen — Service Senior Manager
Phone: 612-270-1998
solsen@voamn.org