The story could have gone a much different way.

“It was my first day as the principal at a school in Paradise Hills, when I looked out my window and saw a group of young men approaching the school dressed head to toe in gang colors,” recalled Pat Tisdale.

Her instincts immediately kicked in and she walked straight to the front of the school to meet them.

Pat approached them with hand extended for a handshake, introduced herself to the group and said, “Gentlemen, I bet you have little sisters or cousins that go to this school and you probably understand why I can’t allow you on campus right now.” The young men acknowledged her message and politely agreed to leave.

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As Pat explained it, “Because I respected them and talked to them in the right way, we were able to understand each other.”

That story perfectly sums up the type of people Pat Tisdale and her husband Bob Schroeder are.

This active San Diego couple has been working with some of the region’s most underserved and oft-forgotten communities for decades. And while they recognize the challenges that come with this, they believe deeply in the power of education and the impact it can have on youth who are not afforded as many opportunities.

Innovation in Youth Education

Take for example the Girard Prep Program that Bob created through the Girard Foundation.

“For many students and families at tougher schools, government programs come and go at a steady rate,” commented Bob. “There is a lot of skepticism because these programs do not always adapt to the unique needs of an individual school and set of students.

“Our Girard Prep Program understands that this work takes time and is most effective when everyone, from the principal and teachers to the students and parents, are bought in.”

Using charitable support to fund mentoring, application assistance, college tours and other services, the initiative helps 250 local high school students in qualifying for and being accepted to a four-year college or university.

Protecting San Diego’s Future

Pat and Bob see the statistics play out in real life scenarios, which led to their belief that education is one of the most important conduits to economic growth.

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According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 82 percent of children whose parents have less than a high school diploma live in low-income families.

Programs that support education for low-income parents and children offer them the potential for lasting economic security.

Pat and Bob are encouraged by the success of programs such as Barrio Logan College Institute and their own Girard Prep, and hope more schools and leaders adopt similar initiatives.

“For us, we want to help make San Diego’s communities better for everyone. We believe high quality education is the most sustainable way to do that,” expressed Pat.

Learn More

San Diego is rich with local leaders and philanthropists that are fighting for underserved youth. Learn about how The San Diego Foundation is addressing these efforts and what local donors are doing to provide education and other services to underserved youth.

Do you believe youth education is important for the future of San Diego? Let us know why in the comments!

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