top of page


The Barney Charter School Initiative (BCSI) is an outreach program of Hillsdale College devoted to the revitalization of public education through the launch and support of classical K-12 charter schools.

Through this initiative, Hillsdale College promotes a model of education that is rooted in the liberal arts and sciences, offers a firm grounding in civic virtue, and cultivates moral character.

Our nation’s founders knew, as Thomas Jefferson wrote, that “an educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” Today’s public schools are too often poor stewards of their trust, caught between moral and cultural relativism, conflicting views about education’s purposes, and tangled layers of testing and oversight from multi-level bureaucracies.


Hillsdale’s Barney Charter School Initiative provides an effective alternative by collaborating with local citizens throughout the country to found classical charter schools built on the best curricular and instructional traditions.

Begun in 2010, BCSI collaborated with its first school openings in the fall of 2012. Since that time, BCSI has assisted in the launch of dozens of schools across the country. In the 2020-21 school year, Hillsdale Member Schools served more than 15,000 K-12 students with over 10,000 students on waitlists.

BCSI’s support and operations have continued to grow with its experience and success, and with significant investment from supporters to Hillsdale College. BCSI employs Hillsdale College's well-developed and tested K-12 liberal arts curriculum covering the major academic disciplines from Kindergarten through high school graduation. In partnership with teachers and Hillsdale College professors, Hillsdale K-12 staff provides support on content and instructional practice across all grades and subjects. Hillsdale also provides significant assistance to school leaders and boards in the form of counsel, training, and best practices.

The support offered through BCSI is made possible by the generous support of friends of Hillsdale College. The program began with a leadership grant from The Barney Family Foundation. Many other friends of the College have added their own contributions, helping the Barney Charter School Initiative, like all of Hillsdale’s programs, to operate in complete independence from taxpayer funding. The College’s services are provided at no cost to the schools themselves.

BCSI-approved Member schools receive excellent guidance and consultation from Hillsdale, including curriculum; recruiting  and training teachers and headmaster; and annual continuing education. The local Founding Group does the hard work to devise a business plan, raise funding, obtain a charter, manage facilities, and govern the school. 

Class Portrait
bottom of page