Kindergarten students listen to their teacher at Democracy Prep Congress Heights in Southeast Washington, D.C., in 2014. Democracy Prep is one of many charter networks that have received support from the Walton Family Foundation. (Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post)

The Walton Family Foundation on Tuesday announced that it would commit $250 million to help urban charter schools deal with a problem that has sometimes slowed their growth: access to facilities.

The money will go to nonprofit lenders and charter school developers, who will use it to help finance buildings for new charter schools in 17 cities, including the District.

Approximately 3 million children now attend charter schools across the country. The new effort from the Walton family, heirs to the Walmart fortune, is expected to create space for an additional 250,000 students by 2027, according to the foundation, which has played a key role in driving the expansion of charters during the past two decades.

“Before opening their doors, charter schools must find suitable and affordable spaces where teachers can teach and children can learn. In many cities, this is the biggest barrier to creating high-quality educational options for children and families,” Marc Sternberg, the director of the Walton Family Foundation’s K-12 Education Program, said in a statement. The $250 million commitment, dubbed the Building Equity Initiative, “intends to level the capital and policy barriers that prevent charter schools from growing to meet demand from families and communities.”