The outside façade of the Monarch School is as unassuming as the staff and students who fill its small rooms. But on Thursday morning, the excitement could be felt throughout all of Little Italy, as the San Diego community came together to honor the school and its work in educating San Diego’s homeless children.
The Monarch School, located in downtown’s Little Italy, educates approximately 150 students in a tiny 10,000 square foot building. Funding for the school depends largely on fundraising and private donations. Last Thursday, dozens of Monarch students filtered in from their classrooms to meet the Honorable Lama Tenzin Dhonden, Personal Peace Emissary for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and to thank him and representatives from the universities for a generous contribution.
Lama Tenzin and executives from San Diego State University, UC San Diego, and University of San Diego presented the Monarch School with a check for $51,000. The funds were surplus net revenue from the Dalai Lama’s visit to San Diego on April 18-19, 2012.
The decision to donate the surplus funds to the Monarch School honors the Dalai Lama’s ongoing message of peace and compassion, especially toward children. And the gift is in line with the mission of the Monarch School, which is to educate students impacted by homelessness and to help them develop hope for a future with the necessary skills and experiences for personal success.
Lama Tenzin said, “The gift is very much in keeping with His Holiness’s message of ‘Universal Compassion and Love,’ particularly for young people whose perspectives on the world can so easily be shaped by their circumstances and interactions with the people around them.”
Over the course of the two-day visit in April, the 14th Dalai Lama spoke to over 20,000 San Diegans at the campuses of UCSD, USD and SDSU. The talks were also webcasted live so that residents the world over could experience His Holiness’s historic first visit to San Diego.
Erin Spiewak, chief executive officer of Monarch School said, “This generous contribution allows Monarch to continue to support our students growth and learning with the intention that they will follow in the example of significant leaders such as His Holiness.”
Monarch School will be using the funding to support a new student leadership program currently in development. The focus of the program will be on teaching students about the importance of civic engagement, leadership, and community participation.
— Melissa Wagoner
Photos by Tim Mantoani