Each week for over 20 years, Del Mar resident Andy Achterkirchen drives to the San Diego neighborhood of Barrio Logan as a volunteer tutor. He has helped hundreds of students who are on their quest to be among the first in their families to enroll in college.
The students are members of Barrio Logan College Institute (BLCI), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty by preparing underserved students to be the first in their families to go to college. From third grade through college completion, BLCI provides specialized tutoring sessions, field trips, workshops and introductions to career pathways. Students attend workshops and meet with a BLCI specialist after their traditional school day ends, participating in activities that are age appropriate and culturally relevant. The results have been remarkable, receiving local, statewide, and national recognition. Even more impressive are the individual lives they affect – 100% of their students go to college.
Achterkirchen is one of BLCI’s longest serving volunteers providing expertise in the classroom and in the board room.
“I tutor high school students one night a week, mostly in mathematics, pre-calculus and calculus, as well as in chemistry and physics,” says the retired engineer who worked on communication systems for spacecraft and aircraft.
Achterkirchen serves on the BLCI Advisory Committee, which provides input to the nonprofit’s management team on additional opportunities that BLCI may consider doing to better prepare the BLCI students for college. And now, Achterkirchen is helping the organization with the funding that is needed to move into its permanent home.
Achterkirchen recently donated $200,000 to support BLCI’s High School and College Success Program rooms. His gift was integral to allowing BLCI to move into their new home, which they have done in the past few weeks.
BLCI to remain in Barrio Logan
Prior to receiving the major lead gifts from Achterkirchen and others, leaders of the San Diego homegrown nonprofit even considered that they may have to relocate outside of the Barrio Logan community, which could have created difficulty for families enrolled in the program.
“The current location of BLCI is in the Monarch School, and we were notified earlier this year the school needed additional space to allow them to serve more children,” says Barbara Ybarra, interim chief executive officer, BLCI. “It was a signal to us we needed to invest in ourselves and find a permanent home.”
“The new building will be easier for families to walk to our center that will have classroom and communal spaces, as well as quiet study areas,” says Achterkirchen. “We’ve come a long way since I started volunteering with BLCI and it is truly amazing to see these kids blossom and see their lives change. Now we can expand programs and serve more students.”
“With the rising costs of purchasing a building and the associated costs for tenant improvement, there was a real threat Barrio Logan College Institute would have to relocate outside of our current neighborhood of Barrio Logan,” says Ybarra. “This would cause a burden on our families, but we have some real generous champions who want to see us grow and continue to succeed. Low levels of education are associated with crime, low civic engagement, and poor health outcomes. Our program and methodology work, and the kids and families see our program as an opportunity for social mobility through education.”
New home to inspire opportunity
In total, the organization’s goal is to raise $3.5 million to pay for tenant improvements, expand programs, and ultimately purchase the building. The renovations will transform the former print production facility into a state-of-the-art education center for kids and their families. “There is data that says a better learning environment creates better learning. Our designs reflect this, and we are excited to create a space that is welcoming and comfortable so our kids will be inspired to learn and grow,” says Ybarra.
In addition to the generosity of Achterkirchen, early investors include The Stiefel Behner Charitable Fund ($500,000), Nordson Corporation Foundation ($250,000), The Aquilera Family, the Schulze Family Foundation ($100,000) and Joyce and Rick Ross ($50,000). But more support is needed to meet BLCI’s fundraising goal. To learn more about the Inspire Opportunity Capital Campaign for BLCI, visit www.blci.org. — News release