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The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools emerged on August 9, 2005, marking the final stage in the organization's evolution into the nation's leading charter school support and advocacy organization. Prior to this name change, the organization had been known as the Charter School Leadership Council.

CSLC was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in Washington, DC in April 2004. On December 1, 2004, Nelson Smith was installed as the organization's first President.

The Council was originally formed in 2002 as a coalition of national school reform organizations, all of which supported charter schools. These groups needed a forum through which they could advance the national movement through coordination and collaboration.

The Council operated as a coalition until 2003, when its members, deciding this quickly expanding movement needed more focused attention, developed CSLC into an independent nonprofit organization. Its board of directors was expanded to include additional experienced voices from other segments of the movement, including state associations and resource centers, schools, management companies, and foundations. The organization's scope of work also expanded to include national and state policy, research, public relations, and capacity building (helping schools help students and helping other organizations help schools).

The board of directors supported the 2005 name change to better reflect the organization's mission and role. The Alliance currently has offices in Washington DC and plans to place staff in a number of field offices across the country.