Project Description

Monarch School

Renovation of a vacant warehouse provides a state-of-the-art K-12 learning facility for students impacted by homelessness.


Monarch School in downtown San Diego was established through a special partnership between the San Diego County Office of Education and a non-profit organization, Monarch School Project, with the shared mission to meet the unique and challenging educational needs of children living in transitional environments.

The Monarch School’s former campus was 10,000 square feet and beyond capacity, serving 150 students. Each classroom operated two grade levels, and eye exams and tutoring were held in the lobby. The outdoor area served as a cafeteria, gym, playground, auditorium and study hall.

Renovation of a 51,000 square foot LEED Silver building provides a classroom for each grade level, computer and science labs, a library, tutoring and health centers, a gymnasium and an outdoor recreation area.

The Monarch School now helps 400 of San Diego’s homeless children break the cycle of poverty through accredited education, tutoring and an after-school program, as well as medical and dental care, food and clothing, hygiene kits, transportation and family assistance.

  • Create 130 construction jobs and 16 permanent jobs.
  • Offset 6,962 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
  • Provide extended hours (7 a.m. to 6 p.m., 51 weeks/year) to ensure high-quality educational and social service programs in a safe environment.
  • Students often arrive three years behind grade level. For every six months they spend at Monarch, they progress more than a year academically through tutoring services.
  • Student and family support services and post-graduation programs give at-risk youth the tools they need to succeed. Monarch graduated nine high school seniors in 2012, all of whom plan to attend college.
  • Increase access to healthy food for San Diego’s homeless children and their families by providing students with breakfast, lunch and three snacks daily, including fresh produce donated by a community partner. Family dinners are offered three times per week.
  • Poverty Rate: 53.8%
  • Median Family Income: 32.5% of benchmark
  • Unemployment Rate: 6.3 times the national average
  • Homeless students in San Diego County: 15,800+
  • Large population of working poor: 25,000 full-time workers earn below-poverty
  • incomes and another 97,000 work part-time and live in poverty.
  • Total Project Cost: $16.4 million
  • NCF Deployed Allocation: $15.5 million
  • Total NMTC Allocation: $15.5 million
  • United Fund Advisors (National Community Fund I, LLC)
  • Monarch School Project
  • Opus Bank
  • Clearinghouse Community Development Financial Institution
  • City of San Diego