School for the homeless helps kids spread their wings
Posted on April 18, 2019
Downtown in the Barrio Logan neighborhood, incredible transformations are taking place. The location, the Monarch School, embraces children whose futures are uncertain and gives them a tremendous gift: hope. The uncertainty comes from the most unfortunate of circumstances — homelessness — and the hope, from education, with a healthy dose of community support, involvement, and generosity.
Spanning kindergarten through 12th grade, Monarch’s student body is composed of roughly 300 children who are living in shelters, hotels, motels, or cars, or even doubled up in homes with other families. If that number is shocking, consider that an estimated 23,000 youth fall under this definition of “homeless” in San Diego County. Compounded with the fact that only approximately 25 percent of homeless kids graduate from high school, the importance of Monarch and other institutions like it becomes eminently clear. An education can become these kids’ best hope to break the cycle of homelessness.
The school does a lot more than cover academics; their list of “essentials” is extensive. At Monarch’s 60,000-square-foot Nat and Flora Bosa Campus, students gain not only education but also benefit from tools and resources tailored to their specific needs, down to an on-site “boutique” where they can find everything from shoes to toothpaste. The school also offers extracurricular elements to balance the academic experience, including sports, clubs, and even creative arts. With its well-rounded curriculum, Monarch bucks the statistics and boasts an 89 percent graduation rate.
Structured as a partnership between the nonprofit Monarch School Project and the San Diego County office of education, Monarch could not exist without community support, and the school has that in abundance, especially from their downtown neighbors, the San Diego Padres. “Really, every aspect of the Padres organization has embraced Monarch, and our success is due largely to that long-term, intentional, and generous contribution,” says Monarch Foundation CEO Erin Spiewak.
On May 2, Monarch will hold its fifth annual fundraiser, Raise Up for Monarch, led by chairs Jeff and Lisa Martin, and supported by an honorary committee heavily laden with members of the Padres organization, including Alexis and Ron Fowler, Josie and Tom Seidler, Sheel and Peter Seidler, Jessie and Andy Green, Laura and Erik Greupner, A.J. Preller, and Tracy and Trevor Hoffman.
The evening offers supporters the opportunity to visit the campus for a firsthand look at the school’s work, beginning with student-led tours of classrooms, the garden, nutrition lab, dance studio, and more. A brief program, held in the school’s gym, features student performances and demonstrations. Last year’s event generated $1.1 million, amounting to roughly 25 percent of the school’s annual budget.
“Monarch is so much more than just a school, it is a unique place of learning and healing,” says Alexis Fowler, who is also fundraising chair on the Monarch School Board of Directors. “The services offered by Monarch assist our students in developing life skills that will profoundly alter their lives for the better.” monarchschools.org/events Deanna Murphy
Photo by Brant Bender