Story of Impact

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February 25, 2016

There are more than 20,000 homeless children in San Diego County, California according to the San Diego County Office of Education. 

Monarch School serves these children in grades K-12, ages 4-19, who live in shelters, motels, doubled-up with other families in small apartments, at camp sites, in cars or on the streets. 

Children who are homeless often go to school dealing with hunger, fatigue or ill-fitting shoes and they face barriers such as lack of transportation and lunch money. Additionally, the daily hardships and stresses of homeless life take an emotional toll on these children, which can affect their behavior as well as increase absenteeism.

When Jasmine was a child growing up in Tacoma, Washington, she never thought she would end up homeless in San Diego. 

Her family had a home and her parents were employed. Then her father died, and her mother struggled to support them, working in production jobs and welding. But it was a challenge for a widowed mother to make ends meet in a recession. So she and Jasmine moved to San Diego to be near relatives, hoping some family support would help ease the hardship.

Jasmine and her mother stayed temporarily with an aunt, but the small household was crowded and they soon felt like an unwelcome burden. They moved to a cheap hotel, then sought refuge in a homeless shelter where a shower was a rare luxury.

Then things began to look brighter. They heard about Monarch and enrolled Jasmine as a 7th grader where she quickly felt at ease when teachers, staff and students were friendly and welcoming. “When you have nobody, Monarch is there for you. Education, clothes, food, transportation, support . . . they help you with everything,” she says.

She struggled academically, since she had missed a lot of school and fallen behind. With individualized instruction, tutoring and summer sessions, Jasmine has been able to catch up academically and discover that she loves to write, enjoys learning about history, and is good at science. Now in 8th grade, she’s earning As and Bs as well as participates in the Therapeutic Arts Program and After School Program.

Looking ahead, she hopes to participate in Monarch’s Internship Program when she reaches high school, and plans to prepare for college with the help of the College and Career Development Program to pursue her dream of becoming a dentist.

Homeless life is still a daily struggle, with worries about income and meals, and whether her mom will find work. But when she arrives at school in the morning, Jasmine knows she’ll eat, learn and find the support she needs so that she can follow a path to success and not have to face street life again.

Grant funds from the MAXIMUS Foundation help provide this impactful program which includes an accredited education, tutoring, literacy program, math specialist program, physical education, field trips, creative arts, leadership and entrepreneurial programs, college and career preparation, therapeutic arts, counseling, medical and dental care, vision care, food and clothing, hygiene kits, transportation and family assistance.

In November 2016, Monarch School will open their new state-of-the-art career academy, Launch Pointe, to prepare students for future success with hands-on projects and work-based learning in growing employement sectors such as Health Care and Information Technology. 

This comprehensive programming makes it possible for disadvantaged children to break the cycle of homelessness through education.

When asked what she would tell someone about Monarch School, Jasmine says simply, "Monarch saved my life."

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