The future is uncertain for a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping foster youth in Santa Barbara County, and its leaders have decided to sell a Los Alamos property originally slated for a charter school.
The Children’s Project Foundation board of directors issued a statement Friday saying the decision was made with “heavy hearts.”
The group was formed in 2004 as a collaboration to improve the outcomes for foster youth, and with the goal of creating a residential charter school community for foster teens.
In October 2009, the foundation purchased 114 acres of land in Los Alamos, which was to be the site of an academy for seventh- through 12th-grade foster youth, where they’d live alongside teachers, foster parents and staff.
“It has been a difficult decision for all of us, but a necessary one given the financial realities,” Wendy Kilbourne Read, The Children’s Project CEO, told Noozhawk on Friday. “As a result, the future of The Children’s Project is uncertain; much will depend on the timing and price of the sale.”
In a statement sent out Friday, the foundation’s directors said that they’ve struggled with the downturn in the economy, and have had increasing difficulty raising capital to build the campus.
“We have operated this year with no paid staff and minimal operating expenses, focusing all our efforts on trying to find creative ways to make our school a reality,” the letter said.
The foundation worked closely with local foundations, researched public funding sources, pursued individual “angels,” consulted with philanthropic leaders, and even actively pursued potential merger opportunities.
“In spite of these efforts, the financial hurdles have proved too challenging to overcome, and it is with heavy hearts that we have initiated steps to sell our Los Alamos property that was to be the site of our Academy,” the statement said.
“While disappointed that we will not have a campus in Santa Barbara County, we remain passionate about the concept of integrating education with residential care for foster youth.”
While the foundation assesses its future, its leaders said they are reassured that their vision continues in other communities such as Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange and San Francisco counties, which all have projects under way benefiting from TCP work.
“We are proud that we have inspired and informed these efforts and look forward to following their progress,” the letter said.
“As individuals, many of us are involved with other nonprofit organizations and groups working hard to make a difference in foster care. We will continue to help ensure that these problems aren’t ignored, and that our community’s foster youth — our children — receive the guidance and support they need to become happy, healthy contributing members of our community.”