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At Charter School Capital (CSC), accountability is key. We hold each other accountable to core company values as the driving force and foundation of what we do. These values are our guiding principles as we work together to more effectively support the growth and development of our charter school partners. And, as a result, Charter School Capital is a proven catalyst for charter school growth. In CSC’s ten years, we very proud to say that we’ve helped finance the education of more than 800,000 students in over 600 charter schools across the United States.
We measure everything we do by these core values:
In this blog series, we wanted to spotlight how all of us at CSC work to exemplify these core values. For this, the final post of the series, we’ll dive deeper into what accountability means to us and how we embody and reflect this goal both internally and what that means for our charter school partners.
To get some expert insight into how we strive to live up to the value of accountability, I was looking forward to sitting down with Matt Percin, Manager of Financial Analysis and Risk here at Charter School Capital. Matt is part of our finance team who are responsible for two key things:
For each school we’re working with, our team looks at their entire financial situation in order to provide the tailored support they need. If we find any potential issues or gaps in their cash flow where they may need support, we then help those schools figure out exactly where the problems are—and even build out plans for them—to show them how to support their stability and growth.
Matt– selected by CSC leadership as the embodiment of the value of accountability here at CSC – has been with Charter School Capital for five years, starting as a Financial Analyst, then moving up to Sr. Financial Analyst, and most recently he’s been promoted to be the manager for the Finance and Risk team.
Sitting down with Matt I was curious to know:
• How having accountability adds value to our teams
• How accountability helps us directly support our clients
• How our culture of accountability builds trust
• If accountability helps us be more invested in our mission
In this series about Charter School Capital’s values, we’ve spoken about empowerment, being best-in-class, teamwork, and innovation. All of those values seemed pretty straight-forward as to how they impact our daily work and add value to our company. I’m not sure why, but accountability seemed a little more nebulous to me. I directly asked Matt that question. Why is accountability one of our values and how does he think it impacts our organization?
“Accountability is important as an internal value here. We’re trying to serve a specific population in the education space. And, a lot of what we do in the financial realm is pretty technical. So we’d definitely have to hold each other accountable for all things—both the good things and even the mistakes.
You have to own your own work because, like with any organization, everything you’re producing always flows to somebody else. So always being able to take accountability for whatever you’re producing is very important… it’s actually vital to hold yourself accountable or even hold somebody else accountable—even though sometimes it’s difficult.
That’s how people actually learn. And there’s always some type of coaching or learning moment that comes out of a mistake. There are always things here that pop up – and it might be one little thing that nobody would notice. But if you can figure it out and then share it with the people around you (that have a similar role) everybody benefits.“
If it seems like a broken record, apologies, but the fact remains—we care about the success of our school partners. In other words, we take accountability for their sustainability, growth, and longevity. I asked Matt his thoughts on how we best serve our clients and support their mission.
“We’re always going above and beyond, but I think accountability is also about being creative and figuring out new strategies to help clients. There’s a lot of schools that have very unique situations. We understand the intricacies of the charter school movement and over time, have gained a lot of experience. We continually strive to get better at being able to adapt quickly for new problems.
Sometimes clients come to us asking for something we’ve never done before and so we may not even know what that solution is when first approached. But all of a sudden, we get a team of people that just start researching and trying to figure out how to solve the problem. Figuring out how to accelerate the most capital possible for clients while they’re growing adds a lot of value because they can keep ramping up and serving more kids in the community and building out their mission.”
Our clients trust us to go the extra mile. At CSC all arrows point to the fact that we take the time and care to build relationships with our school partners. Every team member on each account feels responsible for the school’s success and ownership for their part of the equation. By having this team of dedicated professionals who connect with school leaders in this way, trust is a natural – and happy – consequence. I asked Matt about what trust means both internally and externally with our clients and how that ties into being accountable.
“I think there’s a lot of trust in our organization. And it stems from the top down. Everything needs to start with the leadership for everyone below the leadership to feel empowered to do whatever their job or their role is. Because if the leadership trusts all the people they’ve hired and mentor, it flows to everybody else.”
But of course, accountability is about more than trust within the organization, right? I asked Matt how trust plays a role in his client relationships.
“There are some clients I’ve been working with for years now and there’s definitely a very strong connection and mutual trust that has been built. We’ll be asked things that normally we wouldn’t have been asked because the relationship is so strong. They may come to us and say, ‘Here’s something we’ve been working on, can you add your insight and expertise to it?’ That relationship adds up to you being accountable to them and feeling that connection.”
Because everyone here is so mission driven, we are truly motivated by how many students we serve. And we know that by helping our schools be successful, we are helping them serve even more students. Matt’s team of comprehensive and caring finance professionals seems to always go above and beyond with our clients to do everything in their power to ensure that they succeed and grow. I asked Matt if he had any specific examples of how our culture of accountability directly impacted our school partners as it related to his work.
“There are several examples where we have found unique ways of looking at things and have helped clients tremendously beyond where they normally think we would help them. There was actually an error made at one state’s Department of Education with the amount of money that was sent to one of our school partners. We did some math and looked at our value models and said to them that we think you’re actually owed a substantial amount of additional funding from the state. After sending over our calculations, the issue was escalated it to the county (or whoever ended up looking at our math) and then the state realized ‘you guys are right, we didn’t do that correctly’. And then they sent the school a wire for the amount they deserved.”
Now that’s some accountable accounting. (Apologies, I couldn’t resist.)
At CSC, our ultimate goal is to help the charter school movement grow and flourish, and as mentioned (repeatedly), serve more students. Because we take pride in the social impact that we’re supporting by helping charter schools succeed, I asked Matt how that mission helps direct and motivate his work – and how that ties back to being accountable to the success of our clients.
“I think the charter school movement is a powerful movement. I’m on the financial side of the role and am looking at numbers a lot. But, over the past couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet, interact, and engage with the clients I’ve worked with in person. Remembering the powerful things that schools are doing and actually seeing the kids inside the school reminds you that what you’re doing in [the office] is actually benefiting somebody and it makes it all tangible.
Some of the clients that I work with rely on us for extra assistance and guidance. Sometimes, just being face to face makes that interaction much more successful, especially if you have to overcome a difficult obstacle together. It helps our clients realize that we actually are their partner. That is a pretty unique thing, that type of relationship. ”
So did that nebulous concept of accountability become more clear to me after speaking with Matt? Absolutely. Here’s what I now know:
Being accountable, or having accountability means;
• we’re responsible for our client’s success,
• we own our work,
• accept and learn from our mistakes, and
• earn the trust of our co-workers as well as our school partners.
And, it means that when we see a need – beyond what’s right in front of us – we go the extra mile to help us achieve our mission and even more important, help our school partners achieve theirs.
Since the company’s inception in 2006, Charter School Capital has been committed to the success of charter schools. We help schools access, leverage, and sustain the resources charter schools need to thrive, allowing them to focus on what matters most – educating students. Our depth of experience working with charter school leaders and our knowledge of how to address charter school financial and operational needs have allowed us to provide over $1.8 billion in support of 600 charter schools that have educated over 1,027,000 students across the country. For more information on how we can support your charter school, contact us. We’d love to work with you!Learn More