Did you ever sleep in a bus rather than ride one to school? Use a cardboard box for shelter from the cold, instead of a fort? For homeless school-age children in San Diego it’s reality. Monarch School in San Diego, California, educates 150 students who are living on the streets or in temporary housing and shelters.
Bluepoint Solutions, a Vista, California, based company offering item capture and payment processing solutions for credit unions and banks, has spent a decade helping change the children’s future. For CEO Hal Tilbury and their employees, the support has been a joy to give.
Thanks to eight years of community support and corporate donations like Bluepoint Solutions’, the public school is unveiling plans that will allow a remodeling of a 51,000 square foot warehouse in East Village. Monarch School’s current facility is located in Little Italy and is only 10,000 square feet. Filled by about 150 students and 45 staff members daily, the building is at capacity. Classrooms are doubled up with two grade levels each. Services like eye exams and tutoring are held in the middle of the hall, lobby, and the only outdoor area. A minimal 5,000 square feet area is a catch-all used for the cafeteria, gym, auditorium, study hall and more.
According to the foster youth and homeless services department at the San Diego County Office of Education, homeless students in San Diego County totaled 15,870 for the 2010-2011 school year, about 2,000 students greater than the year prior.
For Bluepoint Solutions, supporting Monarch has become part of the corporate culture. Bluepoint Solutions adopted Monarch School five years ago, committing to ongoing support. Each year, the company donates five percent of its annual net profits, matches all employee donations throughout the year, and provides paid-time-off for staff to volunteer at the school, many of whom go regularly. Going beyond just financial support, Bluepoint Solutions also sponsors Monarch School’s annual Mother’s Day party, donates dresses for the school’s prom and provide a monthly dinner for both students and parents.
“Homelessness is on the rise in San Diego and I believe we all have an obligation to help these children who, through no fault of their own, are in this situation,” said Tilbury. “There is no better gift than education and no better way to break the cycle of homelessness. I truly hope the community will rise to the challenge and help build Monarch’s new campus.”
For Tilbury, getting to know the kids is part of the joy of getting involved. “We have one gal who is graduating; she lives in a location 50 miles away from school. She is a daughter of a migrant worker. She gets up at 4:30 in the morning and gets to school at 7:30, then takes two classes at the community college and works at a drug store. That is not a normal kid’s schedule,” said Tilbury.
“Without the community support we would be stuck in our current building. There is no way this would happen without the majority of the support funded by companies and community members like Bluepoint Solutions,” said Erin Spiewak, CEO of Monarch School. “The new campus will not only allow us to help so many more children, but it will also provide the state-of-the-art learning environment imperative for the success of our students.”
Beyond bigger and better, a new campus means more students will be served a brighter future. “These children face obstacles most of us can’t even imagine. It’s vital that we provide an environment where they feel safe and accepted, and where they can receive additional programs to help break the cycle of homelessness,” said Spiewak.
To date, Monarch School has raised $11 million to help build the new school. It is now in the final phase of fundraising efforts to reach the needed $14.2 million. Interested individuals can learn more about opportunities to donate or volunteer by visiting http://monarchschools.org , facebook.com/monarchschool or twitter.com/SanDiegoMonarch.
Specifically, Monarch School would like to thank the following major donors from the San Diego area for their generous support:
- Bosa Development ($1.5 million gift)
- Avelino and Mary Alice Gonsalves ($1 million)
- The Tilbury family and Bluepoint Solutions ($500,000)
- US Bank ($500,000)
- Dickinson Family Foundation ($250,000)
- The Manchester Family ($250,000)
- OliverMcMillan ($200,000)
- The McPherson Family ($75,000)