About Monarch

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Monarch School has served as a place of hope and belonging to thousands of unhoused students since 1987. Our unique and innovative Kindergarten through 12th grade school provides students with the stability and security they need to heal and learn.

Nearly 300 students attend Monarch School each day and are provided a holistic education designed to meet their academic, social, emotional, and life skill needs. Monarch School is a trauma-informed and strength-based community where students can persevere through the trauma of homelessness that has affected them and their success in education.

At Monarch, we give students the skills and tools they need to overcome these odds.

From increased attendance and academic performance to emotional wellness and earning a high school diploma, students are defining success on their own terms and thriving at Monarch. The school is a public-private partnership between the San Diego County Office of Education and the nonprofit Monarch School Project, a 501(c)(3) corporation.

Q&a

Monarch is a public school operated under the San Diego County Office of Education’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools educational program.

Monarch School serves unhoused students and their families who live in San Diego County.

Monarch is a public-private partnership between the San Diego County Office of Education and the nonprofit Monarch School Project, a 501(c)(3) corporation.

Nearly 300 students attend Monarch School each day. In addition, we serve approximately 167 families and 91 alumni throughout the school year.

Our students live in shelters, motels, single room occupancy housing, double- or tripled-up with other families, at camp sites, in cars, or on the streets.

Students are referred to Monarch through shelters and other social service agencies, school districts, and “word of mouth.”

The average student attends Monarch for 11 months. However, many students are enrolled here for years and even attend until graduation.

Monarch has developed an innovative approach to learning where students gain the skills they need to improve their lives, develop awareness of their emotions, explore their passions and plan for a life of self-sufficient living.

Monarch School is the only comprehensive K-12 school in the U.S. developed specifically to serve unhoused students and their families. Our school is a unique model both locally and nationwide that combines a public-school setting with robust social care.

Contact our enrollment office at (619) 652-4102 or enrollment@monarchschools.org.

Monarch is a public school operated under the San Diego County Office of Education’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools educational program.

Monarch School serves unhoused students and their families who live in San Diego County.

Monarch is a public-private partnership between the San Diego County Office of Education and the nonprofit Monarch School Project, a 501(c)(3) corporation.

Nearly 300 students attend Monarch School each day. In addition, we serve approximately 167 families and 91 alumni throughout the school year.

Our students live in shelters, motels, single room occupancy housing, double- or tripled-up with other families, at camp sites, in cars, or on the streets.

Students are referred to Monarch through shelters and other social service agencies, school districts, and “word of mouth.”

The average student attends Monarch for 11 months. However, many students are enrolled here for years and even attend until graduation.

Monarch has developed an innovative approach to learning where students gain the skills they need to improve their lives, develop awareness of their emotions, explore their passions and plan for a life of self-sufficient living.

Monarch School is the only comprehensive K-12 school in the U.S. developed specifically to serve unhoused students and their families. Our school is a unique model both locally and nationwide that combines a public-school setting with robust social care.

Contact our enrollment office at (619) 652-4102 or enrollment@monarchschools.org.

board of directors

Board Chair
James Harris
President
University of San Diego

Vice Chair
Lisa Bicker
Community Volunteer

Advancing Strategies Chair
Pamela Gray Payton
Chief Impact and Partnerships Officer, Vice President of Community Impact
The San Diego Foundation

Secretary
Karin Vogel
Attorney
Sheppard Mullin

Governance Chair
Debra Molyneux
Community Volunteer

Finance Chair
Graeme Reid
Assurance Partner
Ernst & Young LLP

Audit Chair
Sam Attisha
Senior Vice President/
Region Manager
Cox California

Resource Development Chair
Jill Skrezyna
Community Volunteer

Ryan Alfred
President
Digital Assets Data

Anjuli Arora-Dow
Lawyer

Chris Connolly
Senior Vice President, Marketing
San Diego Padres

Melissa Crawford
President and General Manager
NBC 7 San Diego and Telemundo 20

Ashley Gosal
Director of Legal
Bosa Development

Makeba Jones
Assoc. Teaching Professor
UC San Diego

Marciano Perez
Vice President, Student Services
San Diego City College

Todd Mokhtari
President & General Manager
Telemundo52/NBC4 Los Angeles

Steve Richter, Esq.
Attorney

Sharon Vidal
Sr. Director, Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability
Illumina

Caroline Winn
CEO
San Diego Gas & Electric

Monarch extends our thanks to generous supporters who made gifts of $10,000 or more, from January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021

Accenture
Ajit Viswanathan and Kayla Baker
Alliance Healthcare Foundation
The Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation
BOSA Development
Bryant and Esther Burke
Casey and Mac Armstrong
The Conrad Prebys Foundation
Cox Communications
The Cydio Group
David C. Copley Foundation
Day for Change
Deidre Buddin and Jose Fernandez
Don and Maryann Lyle
Ernst & Young
Farrell Family Foundation
George Lai
Gilbert J. Martin Foundation
The Guerin Foundation
Guthrie Charitable Foundation
Helmstetter Family Foundation
The Hervey Family Fund at The San Diego Foundation

James and Inna Kelly
Joan and Irwin Jacobs
Issa Family Foundation
Jan Steinert and Richard Bosse
Jean Martinez
Jewish Community Foundation
Jill Skrezyna and Alex Sun
Dr. Jim and Mary Harris and the University of San Diego
John Krakauer Charitable Trust
Judith Campbell Foundation
Lily Lai Foundation
Lisa Bicker Martin and Jeff Martin
Los Angeles Chargers
MAXIMUS Foundation
Mimie Anderson
Melissa and Ryan Alfred
Molly’s Angels Foundation
NYDIG
Padres Foundation
Palomar Specialty Insurance Company
Port of San Diego
Price Philanthropies Foundation
Quanta Services Inc.
R.C. Baker Foundation

Reena and Raj Agrawal
ResMed Foundation
Rochelle and Bill Bold
Satterberg Foundation
Saunak and Dawn Shah
Scott and Erin McPherson
SDG&E
Sempra Energy
Senate President pro Tempore Toni. G Atkins
Southwest Airlines Co.
St. Germaine Children’s Charity
The Gilbert Foundation
The McGurk Foundation
The Parker Foundation
The Rice Family Foundation
The San Diego Foundation
The San Diego Women’s Foundation
UBS Financial Services
VSP Vision Care
Yardi
Thomas Ohana Foundation
Walter J. and Betty C. Zable Foundation

monarch leadership

Afira DeVries headshot

Afira DeVries

CEO

Dyane Plumly headshot

Dyane Plumly

Principal

Marisol Alvarado headshot

Marisol Alvarado

Vice President of Programs

KishaLynn Elliott headshot

KishaLynn Elliott

Vice President of Operations and Evaluation

Elizabeth Pennington headshot

Elizabeth Pennington

Vice President of Philanthropy

Our History

Hope and dedication isn’t accomplished overnight.

1987
1990
1998
1998
1999
2001
2002
2009
2013
2014
2016
2017
2019
2020
April 2021
2022

The outlook is grim for youth experiencing homelessness 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 youth experiencing homlessness 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 youth experiencing homelessness from grades K through 12.

Monarch offers full physical education and recreation sports program thanks to new Nat and Flora Bosa Campus.

Monarch gains admission into the California Interscholastic Federation, San Diego Section (CIFSDS) as part of the Frontier Conference.

The Launch Point is unveiled to offer space to students to learn , including a construction lab for the construction and building Career Technical Education pathway. Launch Point was intended to serve as a career academy for our high school students. As a flexible learning atmosphere, the physical space is an environment with moveable furniture to support multiple learning opportunities. The space includes a career and college center for the MSP Life Skills staff to connect with students to plan out their futures.

The newly constructed Parent Resource Center and Parent Classroom are unveiled. Caregivers are welcomed into a space to connect with staff for resources and a learning space to welcome parents as partners in their child education. The larger space allows for parents to access needs, including access to an onsite health navigator and laundry services.

Monarch expands into previously rented out space allowing for a comprehensive mental health program offering services to families and students. Mental Health clinical trainees from local universities began their first placement on campus. This expansion of services allows for more individual, group and family mental health services.

During the COVID-19 pandemic,  all MSP employees become case managers assigned to families to ensure resources were disseminated through bi-monthly distribution days enabling Monarch staff to stay connected to families and offer ongoing support. Monthly resource distribution continues through July 2021.

Campus reopens to students in a limited capacity. August 2021: school reopens at full capacity.

The Chrysalis, Monarch School’s Center for the Arts opens providing students, families and the community with a visual and performing arts space.  The first major scale art exhibition is held to celebrate the opening.

dollars & sense

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 unhoused youth.

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