Strengthening a Pillar of Community

Strengthening a Pillar of Community

Pacific Oaks, known for its approach to teaching and learning, was able to expand programs and boost enrollment as part of The Community Solution.

Pioneering Progressive Education

In 1945, a remarkable journey began when six Quaker families in Pasadena embarked on a mission to revolutionize education, giving rise to Pacific Oaks Children’s School. Fueled by their Quaker values of community, equality, and peace, they laid the foundation for a progressive education model that incorporated those principles. The school has become internationally known for its pioneering accomplishments in the areas of anti-bias education, emergent curriculum, and peaceful conflict resolution.

Thirteen years later came the establishment of Pacific Oaks College, an institution dedicated to equipping future educators with the tools to foster inclusion, self-discovery, and empowerment in their classrooms. Pacific Oaks College has left an indelible mark on the landscape of early childhood education, elevating the college as a thought leader in progressive education. It is known for serving non-traditional and adult students—valuing real-world experiences in addition to academic achievements.

Despite its storied legacy and significant value to the community, Pacific Oaks found itself in a precarious situation during the Great Recession.

Saving a Legacy

Facing dire financial hardships, plummeting enrollment, and an impending accreditation deadline, the college seemed destined for shutdown in late 2009. Board members and the then-president had all but given up hope. However, The Community Solution took a bold leap by affiliating with Pacific Oaks, despite its significant challenges. Under the visionary leadership of Michael Horowitz, Ph.D., president of The Community Solution Education System, a promise was made to not only keep Pacific Oaks afloat but also to restore and strengthen its identity. This pivotal moment exemplified the transformative power of ‘radical cooperation’, where shared beliefs and a common goal can defy all odds and pave the path to success.

Pacific Oaks College faced a daunting reaccreditation deadlock. Against all odds, they persevered and were able to receive reaccreditation, something that would not have been possible without the help and support of The Community Solution. Recognizing the need for comprehensive, institutional improvements, Dr. Michael Horowitz uprooted his own life and assumed the role of interim president in Pasadena for six months. This extraordinary step showcased The Community Solution’s resolve to strengthen the administration and academic program offerings at Pacific Oaks. Since that time, the number of programs has increased from five to 22 and represent a wide range of areas including social justice advocacy, organizational leadership, psychology, and more. Through these actions, The Community Solution showed its unwavering belief in preserving Pacific Oaks’ impactful legacy.

The transformative power of ‘radical cooperation’, where shared beliefs and a common goal can defy all odds and pave the path to success.

A Revitalized Institution

Partnering with Pacific Oaks to bring the institution back from the brink was a defining moment for The Community Solution. With this rich new relationship, the college was able to afford the expertise and resources to refocus on its powerful mission. Today Pacific Oaks stands as an integral part of the Pasadena community and an important institution serving student populations often left behind in higher education. By nurturing the innate potential of every individual, the college and school empower students to serve their communities as agents of change.

Powerful Partnership

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Since joining The Community Solution, revenue for Pacific Oaks has more than doubled.
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Enrollment has increased 102% at Pacific Oaks since joining the System.
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In 2017, Pacific Oaks expanded and purchased the real estate for its Pasadena campus.
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In 2015, Pacific Oaks launched its first-ever study-abroad program.
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In 2020 and 2023, Pacific Oaks College was awarded Hispanic-Serving Institution grants, totaling $5.1 million.

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