The Monarch Newsletter

June 2022 – Vol. 1

Mark Your Calendar

June 9, 2022 – Graduation
October 6, 2022 – Raise Up for Monarch

Looking Ahead – July @ The Chrysalis

  • K-5 Encanto Performance
  • IMPROV Drama Club Performance
  • Cultural Dance Camp + Student Culminating Performance
  • SoulKiss Theatre Debut of New Play (produced by The Old Globe)

Message from the CEO

Dear Friends,

Another year is flying by and we are already in the throes of preparing to celebrate the Class of ‘22’s graduation on June 9th. We are so proud of our seniors who have persevered to complete their education not only throughout the pandemic over the last two years, but also through the immense personal challenges they have faced. But it is not surprising, because Monarch students are resilient. We’ve helped them to prepare for life and all of its ups and downs through our Life Skills and Behavioral Health programs and we celebrate the outcome of our effort. Compared to nationwide statistics, Monarch students are attending school more often and graduating at a higher rate.

• Monarch’s current daily attendance rate is 85%, compared to 76% for unhoused youth nationwide.
• Monarch’s 2021 graduation rate was 88%, compared to 67% for unhoused youth nationwide.
• Since 2018, Monarch has distributed 163 scholarships to students and alumni pursing postsecondary education or vocational training.

While this is the end of their high school journey, it is just the beginning of their promising futures. I look forward to updating you with further information about our graduating seniors in our next newsletter in June.

I hope you enjoy the information in this first edition of our newsletter. Our team is excited to share updates on the programs and events that make Monarch unique. Thank you for your support of Monarch School and your dedication to our outstanding students.

Warm regards,
Afira DeVries

Back to top

Afira Devries

Volunteer Spotlight: Kathleen Carré, UBS


Monarch School Project is proud to announce this year’s volunteer of the year award recipient, Kathleen Carré! Kathleen has been a volunteer at Monarch since 2011. She has organized holiday parties and graduation events, taught skill building classes, and rallied fellow UBS employees to contribute and volunteer at Monarch. Here is a brief interview with Kathleen which demonstrates the depth of her involvement here at Monarch.

How did you first learn about Monarch and what year did you begin volunteering?

I learned about the Monarch School when I worked at my previous firm Smith Barney – one of the advisors (Ryan Belmer) was on the board of Monarch School. When I moved to UBS in August 2011, Chris Marsh told me how UBS encourages their employees to give back to the community and take time off to volunteer. So, in December 2011, was the beginning of my volunteer passion with the Monarch School.

What volunteer opportunities have you engaged in at Monarch? Approximately how many volunteer hours have you worked at Monarch over the years?

I have engaged in several volunteer opportunities at Monarch, in addition to the Holiday Dinner and gift gifting to the Kindergarten class that started in 2011, I was invited to join a group of my UBS colleagues to help volunteer with the 9th grade class that centered around a Finance class. To make it more impactful for the students the group decided to focus on the students’ creating products that had artwork created by Monarch students that they could sell at ART San Diego during their field trip to ART San Diego in November 2014. The UBS volunteer’s goal was helping the students think about creating a product, choose their favorite images and how to recognize top selling items, what makes it sell, the cost of creating the product & deciding how much to sell it for to make a profit. Of course, all profits went directly to the Monarch.

Every year since 2011, we have sponsored the Kindergarten class for Christmas (which included dressing up as Elves and one of our advisors playing Santa Claus; on the day we delivered the gifts we would host a lunch for the entire student body and faculty. Starting in June 2018, we asked to help volunteer at the Monarch 5th grade promotion. Monarch asked us if we would help with the Senior Graduation to the follow year (2019) which of course we did!! When COVID 19 hit in early 2020 and the world seemed to be shutting down, our attention turned to how we could help the students and families during this crisis. We were able to raise, donate $3,200 which UBS matched (which made it a total of $6,400) just in a few days in March 2020 to help with Monarch’s emergency response to COVID-19. In December 2020, we didn’t want our Kindergarteners to miss out on receiving holiday gifts, so I had another fundraiser to not only raise funds for the gifts but for my UBS family to donate directly to Monarch. I’m happy to say we were able to raise $4,545 in just a week to put smiles on the Kindergarteners faces and help the Monarch school with any resources they may need.

In 2021, when it didn’t seem like COVID-19 would ever end, I reached out to Sarah Krueger, Volunteer Coordinator, and asked how we could help with the Senior Graduating Class since we were still unable to volunteer in person. We decided on “Sponsoring a Senior Sendoff” to help provide support in making their start in college a successful one with technology, supplies, dorm room furnishings, interview clothing and any other items needed to have a great start to their next chapter. In December 2021, we were able to sponsor the Kindergarten class again but with the surge in COVID numbers we were unable to visit in person. Our 2022 Goal is returning to our tradition of the Holiday Lunch with the entire student body & faculty and hosting the Kindergarten class in person with Santa & his elves!!

How has your company, UBS, and its employees been involved?

In addition to the above I believe other UBS Employees have volunteered in classrooms & sponsored other grades for the holidays. Since 2014, Chris Marsh and other UBS employees have incorporated Monarch Students into ART San Diego, from the first year of them creating their own products with Butterfly, Inc., to a scavenger hunt one year at ART San Diego, to UBS Hosting a booth at ART San Diego to showcase Monarch Student ART.

What has been the most rewarding experience as a volunteer?

Seeing the joy on the kids’ faces whether it’s during the holiday season or watching them talk about their artwork with visitors at ART San Diego. Watching them become more confident in themselves and what they have achieved – it’s amazing if you just take the time with young ones and help guide them there isn’t anything they cannot do. They just need encouragement and someone to believe in them.

How did you encourage employees to become engaged with fundraising for Monarch?

When we started to raise funds for Monarch over 10 years ago. Employees are allowed to wear jeans on Friday if they donate to Monarch. At times I was given push back on the reason they were allowed to wear jeans on Friday. Over time some felt it wasn’t a fundraising day it was an entitlement provided to them by management which put me in a situation of having to re-explain the benefit of Jean’s Friday. Some folks that really gave me a hard time didn’t understand where the funds were going, I encouraged them to come to Monarch for the holiday lunch and the Kindergarten class gift giving party so they could see for themselves. Every single time those colleagues would come up to me the next day and say thank you so much for what you do for the Monarch kids.

Back to top

Kathleen Carré

Program Spotlight: Academic Intervention Program


This school year, we welcomed two brand new Academic Intervention Instructors to our Life Skills team.

Academic interventions are additional instruction that support regular classroom lessons. Through this program, our students receive small group support as well as one-on-one tutoring specifically in the areas of literacy and mathematics.

Academic Interventionists work in partnership with teachers to assess and identify the students with the most need. In other words, our Academic Intervention program ensures that high quality instruction is paired with targeted interventions to help students succeed.

Nathaly Arroyo, our K-5 Academic Intervention Instructor shares,

“As an academic interventionist, communication with the student’s teacher is highly important. This allows me to get a deeper understanding of what my students need help with and how I can best personalize my support. I am usually scheduled to work with students 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes either in the classroom or in a different setting. In the few months that I have been working with them, I have noticed progress in areas such as letter recognition, letter formation and blending letter sounds.”

By establishing this program, what we are really saying is that we believe in providing quality education to all students, not some students, and that no matter what their instructional needs are, we are committed to designing and implementing an intervention that works for them.

Back to top

Students working at tables for academic intervention program

Event Highlight: Metamorphosis Art Exhibition Showcases Student Art and Collaborations with Local Artists


Students, staff and the community at Monarch celebrated the grand opening of The Chrysalis: Monarch School Center for the Arts, with an inaugural Metamorphosis Art Exhibition featuring works of art from local artists, students and staff. This three-day exhibition took place May 11th-13th with over 100 works of art on display. On May 11th, Monarch hosted the Flutter Fest opening event for students, parents, staff and community partners. Guests enjoyed food truck fare, art making activities, exhibition tours and student performances. This no-charge event was underwritten by generous local sponsors and Monarch School.

The closing event, the Metamorphosis Art Exhibition Cocktail Reception, was held on May 13th at 6pm. The ticketed event featured a curated selection culinary offerings, entertainment, a silent auction and a live opportunity drawing for guests to take home a selected work of art from the exhibition. The event raised over $100,000 to support Monarch’s Creative Youth Development Programs.

The Monarch Metamorphosis Art Exhibition featured artists and their stories of change, growth, and resilience.

“Students have been taking art making workshops with incredibly talented local guest teaching artists and have experienced diverse forms of art making and mediums to create their own responses for the exhibition,” said Elizabeth Pennington, Vice President of Philanthropy and the Exhibition Director. “We are thrilled to launch this inaugural exhibition to share the work of our talented students and community artists and raise necessary funds to grow our Creative Youth Development programming to further engage our students in the arts.”

Denja Harris is one of the artists chosen to lead workshops. She and students created a large collaborative work that was on display as part of the silent auction at the exhibition. Denja demonstrated with her machinery how to create a large-scale fiber-art wall hanging. “The students were intrigued by this art form and jumped in to each add their own meaning to the work. The collaborative process was as much of a joy for me as it was for the students involved. They really enjoyed working with a new medium.”

Metamorphosis Teaching Artist Bio: Denja Harris, is a textile artist based out of San Diego, CA. Her work explores the world around her, reimagined into experimental fiber art. Examining nostalgia by sourcing dead stock yarn in playful, vibrant colors and a variety of textures, she creates layered, free-form abstract patterns that take shape in an organic process. Her goal is to have the viewer take a step out of their current reality and explore their own unconscious imagination.

The 2023 Metamorphosis Art Exhibition is slated for next May, 2023. Artists interested in participating in this collaboration with Monarch students can join our email list for updates on the call for art early next year.

Back to top

Students showcase their art at the Metamorphosis exhibit

Community Partner Spotlight: VSP Partnership


In March, Monarch School Project and VSP Eyes of Hope Mobile Clinic partnered to provide our students and families with free vision care. Dr. Robert Meisel and volunteer optometrists from the San Diego County Optometric Society provided on-site eye exams for all of our students and prescription glasses to those in need.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our students had not received eye exams in over two years. Many had lost or broken their glasses during this time. One in four school-aged children has an undiagnosed vision issue that could impair their learning. Providing our students with the eyewear they need to see properly is critical for them to be able to reach their academic potential.

At Monarch School, we empower our students to succeed in school and life by providing a high-quality education as well as fulfilling their basic needs. In addition to health screenings, such as eye exams, we also provide our students with on-campus therapeutic and counseling services, school health clinic, clothing boutique, showers, laundry facilities, food, and assistance with housing and transportation. By meeting our student’s basic needs first and foremost we ensure they have a safe and supportive environment in which to learn and grow.

Thanks to our long-standing partnership with Dr. Meisel and VSP, 45 students and 10 caregivers at Monarch School received free prescription eyeglasses. We look forward to welcoming them back in October for another round of vision screenings.


Back to top

Children receive eye exams from Monarch's VSP partnership

Monarch School Welcomes Zeus McClurkin of The Original Harlem Globetrotters in Anti-Bullying Talk to Third, Fourth and Fifth Graders


Monarch School in Barrio Logan welcomes Julian “Zeus” McClurkin of The Original Harlem Globetrotters for an inspiring and interactive presentation with 60 third, fourth, and fifth graders. McClurkin, who is 6’8”, will take to the court to showcase the signature moves of The Harlem Globetrotters and encourage students on how to respond when bullying happens.

Zeus is one of the most decorated athletes on the Globetrotters roster holding three Guinness World Records titles. He has set the mark for most basketball slam dunks in one minute, with 16 (2017), most bounced three-pointers in one minute, with five (2017), as well as the most behind-the-back three-pointers, with three baskets made (2018). Read more about Zeus here.

As part of the Globetrotters’ growing legacy, their mission ripples beyond the basketball court. In a tribute to the rich cultural history that weaves through the Globetrotters’ story, players support social justice initiatives and community programs within the cities they visit. Children seeing them in action will find themselves sharing space with real-life superheroes, whose honor and conviction match their skills both on and off the court. Emphasizing social involvement, wellness of mind, body, and spirit, and the power of laughter, the Globetrotters will give a new generation of fans the gift of smiles on their faces and hope in their hearts.

ABC/KGTV 10 news

Back to top

Zeus McClurkin of The Original Harlem Globetrotters throws basketball to student
Scroll to Top