Forming Your Learning Cooperative into a Non-Profit Private School for Home Educators

Step 4 - Joining a Professional Education Association

Step 1 - First Steps, Tools & EIN Number
Step 2 - Creating Your Bylaws & Articles of Incorporation
Step 3 - Incorporating Your Group
Step 4 - Joining a Professional Education Association
Step 5 - Forms that Demonstrate Your Educational Purpose & Structure
Step 6 - Completing the Non-Profit Application
Step 7 - Obtaining State Corporate Income Tax Exemption
Step 8 - Applying for Sales Tax Exemption
Step 9 - Official Papers of the First Meeting of the Board
Step 10 - Optional Accreditation & Meeting State Requirements
Programs Available to Non-Profits
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Joining a professional private school association lends credibility to your Academy. Including this membership status in your IRS 501C3 application demonstrates that you are indeed operating as a learning institution. You should join an association right away.

ACCREDITATION OPTION (step 10 but shared here for information purposes)

Some private school associations also offer optional accreditation of your academic program. What does this mean? It simply means that a third party has looked at your curriculum and believes there is sufficient teaching, structure, checks and balances to demonstrate that a typical K-12 program is being taught to each child. Even if all your member families are using a different curriculum at home, you can still have your program accredited. By collecting a simple yearly curriculum outline (a one page form) from each member family, covering all the main subject areas and the annual curriculum being used, then combining that with a list of the classes taught at your Academy, you can show that the children are receiving an equivalent education.

Accreditation is a lengthy procedure but CAN be done for homeschool cooperatives. I prefer NAPS (below). Accreditation is the LAST STEP (step 10) in this non-profit process and is optional. The main benefit is the ability to issue high school diplomas that are from your "accredited" institution. This is a plus for college applicants, but not a necessity. Many small private schools are NOT accredited, due to the continued yearly costs involved in maintaining your status. However, NAPS fees are so reasonable that I believe the benefits are worth the effort. The information you will need to present to the accreditation agency is almost a duplicate of your 501C3, so why not take the extra initiative to complete the accreditation application?


There are yearly membership fees involved when joining a private school association. I recommend the following national private school agencies:

Christian Schools International (CSI)

National Association of Private Schools (NAPS)

*You can also check the web for your regional state agencies for private schools associations. Membership to state agencies is often free.  Many state agencies will list your school on their website as a "member school."