WMU Home > WMU News

WMU News

WMU News on Twitter

Nonprofit EMOs enjoy steady growth

Dec. 1, 2009

KALAMAZOO--In contrast with their for-profit counterparts, nonprofit education management companies are growing at a steady rate, a study released by researchers at Western Michigan University and two partner institutions has found.

The new report was released jointly by the WMU College of Education, the Education Policy Research Unit at Arizona State University and the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. It finds that nonprofit EMOs "are garnering more support and are growing steadily, while the growth of for-profit EMOs is slowing."

View the full report online
"Profiles of Nonprofit Education Management Organizations"

The study was compiled as part of the 2008-09 edition of "Profiles of Nonprofit Education Management Organizations" and comes after an earlier study examining for-profit EMOs. The new report was written by Dr. Gary Miron, WMU professor of educational leadership, research and technology, and Jessica Urschel, a WMU graduate research assistant. Miron and Urschel also co-wrote the for-profit EMO study with Dr. Alex Molnar, a professor at Arizona State University.

Michigan has been leading the way in the hiring of education management organizations to run charter and conventional public schools. The EMO sector emerged in the 1990s as part of an effort to use market forces to reform public education. Until recently, most attention has been focused on for-profit EMOs; however, new interest and private funds have been devoted to the nonprofit management sector.

"The nonprofit EMOs are quite diverse," Miron says. "Some of them charge similar fees and behave similarly to for-profit EMOs. An increasing number of the nonprofit EMOs, however, are actually bringing additional financial resources to the charter schools they operate. These are resources which they funnel from private foundations."

Both for-profit and nonprofit EMOs are changing the education landscape, Urschel says.

"Although this new form of privatization is less common among traditional public schools, EMOs now operate close to 30 percent of the nation's charter schools," Urschel notes.

Nonprofit profiles report--other findings

  • Nonprofit EMOs operated public schools in half of the nations 50 states last year, with the greatest concentration in Texas, California, Arizona and Ohio. Although Illinois has relatively few charter schools, it has the highest proportion--72 percent--of its charter schools managed by nonprofit EMOs.

  • There are 103 nonprofit EMOs in the country, including 16 described in the report as "large," managing 10 or more schools; 40 "medium-sized," with four to nine schools; and 47 "small," with three or fewer schools. Altogether, nonprofit EMOs managed 609 public schools in 2008-09. "Large" nonprofit EMOs managed nearly half --46 percent-of these. More than 97 percent of the schools managed by nonprofit EMOs are charter schools.

  • Growth in the number of different nonprofit EMOs has tapered off somewhat since 2004, while the number of schools they operate has continued to grow. KIPP, the Knowledge is Power Program, a national charter school network, experienced the largest net increase in schools during the past school year, growing from 57 to 64 schools. This may indicate a trend toward consolidation in the sector.

The "Profiles in Nonprofit Education Management Organizations" report is available online at: http://epicpolicy.org/publication/profiles-nonprofit-emos-2008-09.

For more information, contact Dr. Gary Miron, WMU professor of educational leadership, research and technology, at (269) 599-7965 or gary.miron@wmich.edu.

Related article
Slow growth in for-profit EMOs

Share |

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400