Applying to a Public Charter Elementary or Middle School

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There are two basic types of charter schools in Philadelphia. Traditional charter schools can enroll students from any part of the city, but they must use a blind lottery to fill open spots. Renaissance charter schools must enroll all students living in a designated neighborhood. TIP: Check a school's admissions policies to determine whether or not they require students to live in the catchment.

Traditional Charter Schools

After you decide which charter schools you want to apply to, the next step is to fill out a short application. Charter schools must give all students an equal chance at admission. They are not allowed to deny application or admission to students because of their grades, race, income or special needs. They are not allowed to make applicants take tests or go through interviews before admitting them.

Apply Philly Charter

Over 70 charter schools accept applications through Apply Philly Charter, which is one online application to most charter schools in Philadelphia. You can apply to participating charter schools using your smartphone, desktop computer, tablet, or even by phone. Once you're on the website, you can create a secure profile and enter basic contact and grade-level information about your student, then choose which charter schools you want to apply to.

All applications submitted through Apply Philly Charter will be sent to the charter schools listed on the student's application. Families will be contacted by schools directly about the outcome of the application(s). For schools that run a lottery, families will be contacted by the school directly about whether their student was selected in the lottery or placed on a waitlist. For schools without a lottery, families will hear back from the school directly about whether they have been offered enrollment.

For participating schools, the deadline to apply is January 28, 2019, to be entered into the lottery for the 2019-20 school year.

The exact enrollment process varies from one charter school to another for charter schools not participating in Apply Philly Charter. In general, most charter schools require applications to be submitted by early February and conduct their lotteries by early March. For specific deadlines and admissions information, it is important that you contact each charter school directly if they are not participating in Apply Philly Charter.

Renaissance Schools

Renaissance Schools are formerly low-performing district public schools that were selected as “turnaround” schools by the School District of Philadelphia and converted into charters. Renaissance Schools operate like any other charter school, with increased freedom.

However, like traditional public schools, Renaissance Schools are required to enroll all students living within designated neighborhood boundaries. This is unlike traditional charter schools, which do not give preference to families living nearby.

More Information

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