The authorizing mission of ACNW is to ensure quality academic and environmental literacy outcomes for Minnesota students through effective charter school authorizing.


The authorizing vision of the Audubon Center of the North Woods is to authorize a portfolio of high performing charter schools that instill a connection and commitment to the environment in their school communities, while working towards a healthy planet where all people live in balance with the Earth.


The Audubon Center of the North Woods (ACNW) is a non-profit, residential environmental learning center and green conference & retreat center nestled on the shores of Grindstone Lake near Sandstone, Minnesota. The Center offers a great variety of environmental learning experiences for people of all ages, with programming in natural history and science, team building, adventure programming, and outdoor/environmental education.

In 2003, ACNW became a sponsor of charter schools in order to further its mission and expand its educational programming. That year, ACNW was granted authority by the MN Department of Education to sponsor charter schools under Minnesota Statute.

In response to statutory change in 2009, ACNW renewed its commitment to charter schools and became an approved charter school authorizer in December 2010. Since that time, ACNW has grown to become the largest authorizer of charter schools in Minnesota by number of schools authorized. ACNW remains committed to authorizing charter schools as an effective vehicle for advancing the organization’s mission and vision.