Monarch has served San Diego for nearly three decades, beginning as a one-room education center and expanding into a K-12 comprehensive school designed to educate homeless youth.
There are more than 1.2 million homeless students across the country and 23,000 in San Diego County alone. Research shows homelessness contributes to a wide range of challenges including physical and psychological problems, safety fears and academic struggles. It’s estimated that 75% of homeless students do not receive a high school diploma. The barriers these students face hinder their ability to become contributing, successful members of their families and society and place them at a high risk of becoming tomorrow’s homeless adults.
At Monarch, we give students the skills and tools they need to overcome these odds.
Sandra McBrayer founded the school in 1987 recognizing the need to get homeless youth off the streets and in school. She was later named Teacher of the Year by President Bill Clinton for her work. In 1999, the Monarch School Project, a 501 (c)(3), was established by San Diego Rotary to help relocate the school to a new facility. Today, the partnership between the school and the nonprofit continues to make Monarch a recognized leader in the education of homeless youth.
Sharp HealthCare Foundation
Fundraising & Stewardship Chair
San Diego Padres
Lisa Bicker Martin
SOLES, University of San Diego
Counsel, Bosa Development
President, University of San Diego
Retired, San Diego State University
Financial Manager, American Assets Trust
Attorney, Sheppard Mullin
COO, San Diego Gas & Electric
Vice President, San Diego City College
David C. Boatwright,
Past Board President 2008-2009
The Burnham Foundation
Author, Speaker, San Diego Rotary
Past Board President 2002-2004
Dillon Development, Inc.
Past Board President 2007
Rotary District 5340 Governor
The Children’s Initiative
Past Board President 2010- 2011
Merlone Geier Partners
Bull Moose Energy LLC
Erin Spiewak began as a volunteer and mentor at Monarch School in 2003 and was awarded Monarch’s Volunteer of the Year award in 2004. Ms. Spiewak returned to Monarch in January 2012 to lead the nonprofit’s strategic development and community partnerships. Previously, Ms.Spiewak worked with several foundations including the Gary and Mary West Foundation, WebMD Health Foundation and the Rose Foundation. Ms. Spiewak received a BA in Sociology from San Diego State University and her MBA from Webster University. She currently serves on the United Way Education Advisory Committee and as a member of Women Give, San Diego. Ms. Spiewak is a fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Sector Skills Academy and a graduate of the LEAD San Diego INFLUENCE leadership program.
Michael Paredes has been an educator for more than 19 years. His student-first approach and philosophy in his working in education is best captured through a quote from Coach Tony Dungy that reads, "Do what we do. Whatever it takes. No excuses, no explanations." Throughout his career, Mr. Paredes has been dedicated to working in schools throughout San Diego and improving outcomes for all students. He has served in many capacities beginning as an ambassador for the Teacher Diversity Project at Sonoma State University. He went on to serve a special education teacher, history teacher, coach, ASB advisor, Dean of Students, and Vice Principal. He has participated in the Educational Leadership Development Academy at the University of San Diego and the Aspiring Principals Academy through San Diego Unified School District. Mr. Paredes holds an undergraduate degree in history from Sonoma State University, a Master’s Degree in education from Ashford University, and earned an Administrative Credential at Point Loma Nazarene University.
The outlook is grim for homeless children needing help in San Diego County. Recognizing a desperate situation, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) funds a drop-in center in downtown San Diego. Named The P.L.A.C.E. (Progressive Learning Alternative Center for Education), it is staffed with a single teacher, Sandra McBrayer, and offers an opportunity for homeless children to get off the streets and pursue an education.
Needing a larger facility but lacking funds, The P.L.A.C.E. relocates to a low-income neighborhood in downtown. Despite challenges, the program continues to flourish.
Students rename The P.L.A.C.E., and Monarch School is born.
Students rename the school to Monarch School in honor of the butterfly’s transformation, which symbolizes their current struggle as well as the success they hope to achieve.
Monarch School Project is formed as a California nonprofit corporation.
The school moves to a new building on Cedar Street in Little Italy. SDCOE agrees to fund a 15-year lease, and Monarch School Project raises over $1 million to fund renovations, furniture and fixtures in the school. The new 10,000-square-foot facility opens with 48 students and includes a computer lab, three classrooms, a small health clinic, library and conference room, kitchen, laundry room and shower.
Monarch School reaches its capacity of 150 students in May, four years ahead of growth projections.
Building modifications are made in order to add a kindergarten and first-grade classroom. Monarch School is now able to serve children impacted by homelessness from grades K through 12.
Monarch School Nat & Flora Bosa Campus opens. The 51,000-square-foot school on 2.2 acres in Barrio Logan is fully equipped with a gymnasium, single subject classrooms, a library, science lab, tutoring center, and many other features that are essentials to a modern, effective learning environment.
Monarch School is committed to fiscal responsibility and faithful stewardship of the funds entrusted to us by our generous donors.
It is our responsibility to ensure donated funds are kept safe and used only to carry out Monarch School’s mission of educating students impacted by homelessness.