Site Visit: Mi Escuelita Therapeutic Preschool: A Safe Place to Be a Child

Program Dates 
October 18, 2018

Coronado, CA - Join co-hosts Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, San Diego Grantmakers and The David and Lucille Packard Foundation for a unique site visit opportunity to the Mi Escuelita Therapeutic Preschool in the Chula Vista School District of San Diego, the only school of its kind in Southern California designed especially for children ages 3-5 affected by domestic violence and abuse to help break the cycle of violence, help children and their families heal and begin the right path for school.

Young children who have been exposed to violence and trauma experience a wide range of difficulties that affect their development, education and health (such as reduced verbal ability which can impede school readiness and academic outcomes in later grades).

Mi Escuelita employs impactful strategies supporting children ages 3-5 and their families who have experienced violence and trauma: free all-day preschool with bilingual staff; full-time therapists in each classroom; senior volunteers in each classroom to provide intergenerational experiences; youth intervention and diversion programs for older siblings; wrap around services, counseling and crisis intervention for the whole family; and more.

A longitudinal study of Mi Escuelita children who were subsequently enrolled in the Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD) illustrated that across all years Mi Escuelita children performed equal to, and often better, than their peers on several different academic outcomes:

Achieving a degree of school readiness, and sometimes to a greater degree, than other children in the CVESD;
Successfully advancing to the next grade at a rate equal to their CVESD peers;
Maintaining academic success (i.e. equal to or greater than peers) through the early elementary school years. For example, Mi Escuelita children had greater success on California State Tests, which begin in 2nd grade, than did their peers; and even in 3rd grade were still scoring higher, on average, than other CVESD students.
Mi Escuelita is also a model for community-based public/private collaboration. The preschool is operated by South Bay Community Services (SBCS), a community-based non-profit organization, on the campus of an elementary school within the Chula Vista Elementary School District. It serves children referred by local law enforcement, Child Welfare Services, domestic violence programs, community-based organizations, and SBCS emergency shelter and transitional housing programs. The school is funded by First 5 San Diego, private donations, student sponsorships, and an annual fundraising gala.

Date: Thursday, October 18, 2018

Time: 1:30 - 5:00 p.m.

Location: Meet at Hotel del Coronado lobby

Registration: RSVP here; there is no cost to attend the event


Learning goals:

This site visit program will provide early childhood, education and health funders – as well as those interested in strengthening families in other ways--with an opportunity to:

Explore the value of trauma informed care for young children and their families to put them on the right path for health, wellness and academic success.
Illustrate the intersections of early learning and care, education and other important outcomes for long term health and wellness for children and their families.
Build relationships between local and national funders interested in the intersections of early care and learning and long-term success for children and their families.

Working Agenda:

1:30 p.m. Grantmakers Learning & Networking Lunch – Meet in the hotel lobby. An introduction to local and national funders in attendance, and introduction to the San Diego context in preparation. Attendees are responsible for their lunch.

3:00 p.m. Mi Escuelita site visit

Guided small group experience to 3yr old, 4yr old, and 5yr old classrooms
Presentation and discussion with Mi Escuelita staff and teachers
Valerie Brew, Child Well Being Director
Pam Wright, Clinical Director
4:30 p.m. Funder take-aways and future learning opportunities

5:00 p.m. Adjourn

Eligible Attendees:

This event is open to all foundations and ECFC members, other grantmaking entities (e.g. United Ways, public charities, First Fives), as well as staff, board, and volunteers of grantmaker affinity groups and regional associations of grantmakers.


There is no registration fee for this event. Attendees will be responsible for the cost of their lunch.


Registered attendees will receive additional information on:

Lunch venue;
Directions and parking information for local attendees;
Transportation from the GFE conference hotel (for conference attendees staying on to participate in this site visit program).

If you are interested in attending, please register at:

Questions: Contact ECFC at