Overview w/audio
Spectrum Launch
Organization Culture
CTC Integration

Plan & Summary
Business Plan (e-mail copy)
Plan Summary
Plan Summary (printable)
Articles of Incorporation
Grant Writer Invitation

U. of Phoenix Papers
Charter School

Project Plan
Systems Approach
Process Improvements
Cross-Functional Teams
Performance Improvements
E-Curriculum Delivery
Leadership Analysis
Culture and Learning

Further Research
Youth Ascending
Alternative Schools
Curriculum Development
Home Schooling
Youth Development
Youth Organizations
Model Programs






Spectrum Academy


Robin Engel, MA and Zen Benefiel, MA, MBA

925 S. Sailfish Dr.

Gilbert, Arizona 85233



Spectrum Academy Business Plan Summary

The Problem

Arizona’s juvenile corrections system, behavioral health services, and educational environments are lacking successful programs to meet the needs for at-risk or challenged youth across all ethnic groups. It is likely that this situation can be applied nationally. Patterns of abuse continue to plague our society in growing numbers. Emotionally and physically jailed juveniles are simply not available to learn coping skills that help them survive and thrive as community members. Arizona and America’s Indian youth are caught in an even deeper dilemma with the loss of cultural history and traditions. We need an evolutionary leap in youth services. We feel this is a systemic problem across America that needs to be addressed if we are going to survive and thrive as a society.

Consider initiating a peer community that demonstrates a holistic living environment complete with academic, behavioral, emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual support for at-risk youth. How could business, educational and wellness delivery elements work together to create a holistic environment with sustainable financial components? We have a vision of such a place.


Arizona ranks 49th among states in percent of uninsured children and now in educational results, too. Arizona spends 3.7 times more per prisoner than per public school pupil. (Children, p1) Only 46% of Arizona youths detained by police last year were enrolled in school. (Juveniles, p15)  In 1990, minority youth were likely to have less favorable outcomes than Anglo youth that commit comparable offenses.

In 2000, using reported data and a comprehensive qualitative process - where key stakeholders were interviewed and focus group sessions were held with individuals actively involved in the juvenile justice system - there is substantive agreement that minority youth are still over-represented when compared to their Anglo counterparts for comparable offenses. (Commission)

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian community has a dropout rate of almost 80% for kindergarten through 12th grade students. (M. Lewis, Vice President of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian community, public testimony, Arizona Works Agency Procurement Board Meeting, September 18, 1997, as cited in Stromwall, Brzuzy, Sharp, & Andersen, 1998).

The world does not make sense to these youth. The truly unfortunate ones feel they are being drugged (by their parents and schools) in order to slow them down, so adults can deal with them. What kind of a message are we giving them? Children seek rites of passage, often void of guidance, without knowing what they are doing or why; causing social and spiritual issues of near epidemic proportions in our cities and an overload for our courts, educational and social service systems.

Many of these children end up in correctional or treatment centers. Warehousing of these 'adjudicated' youths within the social systems in group homes with minimal supervision and training only continues to drive the growing displacement and damage to our society. Worse yet, some end up on the streets with no life skills or means of support.

The Solution

The analogy of taking a fish out of a dirty fish tank, cleaning it off, and throwing it back in with expectations of survival and success applies here. We need more than a clean fish tank, we need a new aquarium. Spectrum Academy is that new aquarium, equipped to meet the needs of habilitating at-hope youth with skill and precision for the 21st Century, by harvesting historical values and restoring cultural and traditional foundations. 21st Century youth need 21st Century solutions to empower positive choices and successful lives.

We can safely agree that a radical change is necessary and that with a common sense approach we can change lives. Combining all the right elements in a living environment can greatly increase the emotional availability of these youth, increasing their capacity to grow into healthy young adults capable of contributing to the community. One of the structural elements, the medicine wheel, incorporates the philosophy of facing your fears, gaining clear sight, success, and rest only to begin the process again. Harvesting historic cultural values creates bridges for cultural diversity.

We feel we have an answer to help change the pattern of abuse to our communities. Spectrum Academy combines a charter school, residential treatment component, and a community technology/data center to empower youth to change their direction toward success. Anger and depression keep youth from learning, so they need help with emotions and how to deal with them. Once they are available to learn, the educational methods help them understand what it means to be healthy and part of a healthy community.

This approach involves holistic education, which promotes the understanding of the nature of the connectedness of all things. Holistic education is necessary for the 21st Century citizen to understand the new global village. Progressive programs will address a healthy future for everyone. Spectrum also includes the involvement of families and community in the construction and operations of the Academy.

Holistic education is concerned with the growth of every person's intellectual, emotional, social, physical, artistic, creative and spiritual potentials. We are unique as a leader in the research, design, and implementation of holistic education using state-of-the-art technologies in a community village. Our collaborative alliances and partnerships with industry leaders will bridge 21st Century learners with 21st Century technology and our emerging global culture. Our youth need this new aquarium to meet the 21st Century with skill, tact, and precision for success.

Inclusion of programs that address academic, behavioral and life skills are tantamount to the success of these youth and their communities. These programs include cottage industry development, culinary arts, metal and wood working, and all-important computer technology such as Internet-based commerce. Instruction in building trades includes the construction of tribal housing designs, which offers cultural history exploration as well as math and science development. It is our goal to create socio-economic links to the community as bridges for school to work programs. These programs will also provide secondary income sources for Spectrum Academy and the participants. We provide theory and practical applications that have been missing in the developmental processes of these youth. Dedicated and experienced staff will provide solid foundations for success.

How Spectrum Academy Works

Vision: Spectrum Academy leads the nation’s learning and living communities in assisting the transformation of ‘at-risk’ to ‘at-hope’ youths,  healing their emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual wounds and creating positive and profound changes in our nation’s  youth population.

Mission: Provide an alternative state-of-the-art holistic educational and living environment for at-hope youth 14 – 21 to find direction and purpose using proven programs that result in healthy and productive young adults who contribute to society.

Our village includes the elements of holistic education, behavioral sciences and spiritual (non-religious) development with family and community participation. Holistic education focuses on connecting the dots in the web of life so that youth understand the impact of their choices and decisions on themselves, their families, and the world around them. Architectural elements reflecting natural formations and geometry in structure add subtle, yet transformational support for youth and the community. An atmosphere and environment created to inspire does so with sublime efficacy.

Crafting a curriculum to meet State Standards that includes diverse learning styles, life and work skills development, and peer community components offers the flexibility to meet the academic, behavioral, and environmental needs of this population. Spectrum’s use of initial assessments for aptitudes and skill sets help to align the person with realistic goals for success. Celebration of successful rights of passage brings the community and families together to honor the success of the youth. Life skills are enhanced by learning how to live and work responsibly within a community.

Desire for success is increased when incarceration of some form or street life are their only other choices. We believe nearly all would choose to stay. Most of the staff will live on-site in order to establish the community model and to be available 24/7 for any diverse learning needs or personal development mentoring. Scheduling of classes includes consideration for natural rhythms of learning throughout the day and evening, depending on the individual’s best time for learning.

Arts and Life-skills Programs

Arts programs have been proven to increase academic and life skills. It has been proven that musical instruction activates greater areas of the brain for cognitive skills development, including math and science. In a recent speech at East Valley Institute of Technology, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne stated that student participation in music programs have been statistically proven to significantly raise academic scores.

Looking and listening to youths’ work, using the philosophy of art is life and life is art, helps us to uncover and better understand their needs. We can better educate our youth through this process. Training in culinary crafts along with building and manufacturing trades are also essential for developing future community citizens. In this master planned community, youth will learn how to prepare community meals, develop cottage industries, grow and maintain gardens and landscaping, perform facility repairs and even participate in future construction elements.

Supervised by building trades teachers, students are trained and build the necessary structures for Spectrum’s initial construction and expansion, beginning with 100 students and going up to a potential 500 - 750 person capacity over a five-year period. Initially housed in temporary structures, this initial group will be future community leaders for mentoring programs, which focus on developing cottage industries that serve the on-site community and the larger surrounding community.

Jobs for family and community members are created throughout the design, construction, and operation of Spectrum Academy. Inclusion of the community in the decision-making process for the development and implementation of Spectrum Academy builds collaborative alliances and trust in the process and each other.

Housing and Peer Community

The growth and sustainable endurance of these at-risk students require a living environment that supports the same. The educational and housing arrangements include natural development cycles and rhythms heretofore absent from any educational environment, meeting the needs of the personal and community development simultaneously. The initial plant facility construction will use apprentices and journeymen from the local area and where possible, engage preciously challenged adults.

Rites of passage are included in the goals and objectives of the student’s individual education plan. Monthly, based on lunar cycles, goals are achieved through collaborative efforts of students and teachers as well as facility staff well-prepared to meet the out-of-classroom time with prudent processes for personal development.

As goals and objectives are met, the student moves to the next ‘dorm’ and at the completion of a each cycle there is a ‘rite of passage’ celebration designed to engage the learning and understanding at a post-cycle presentation. Once a complete cycle is obtained (13 moves), the student becomes a voting member of the peer community council that administrates the facilities operations. Staff act as an advisory council and have ‘veto’ authority, but are anticipated to be guides rather than guards.


Long-term sustainability is achieved through the union of a community technology center, multi-media communications, and subscription-based World Wide Web services. E-commerce was a $1.2 billion industry in 2002. It is projected to reach the trillions by the end of this decade. This includes high-demand services such as web hosting, e-curriculum storage and delivery, on-line professional development programs, web radio & television, and web-accessible cottage industries developed by the students. As the public awareness of Spectrum Academy grows, the subscription and e-commerce features will soon provide for most, if not all, the financial requirements of Spectrum Academy. 

This sustainability is what has been lacking in previous attempts to service this population. Our alliances and partnerships with industry leaders bridge 21st Century learners with 21st Century technology, assisting our emerging global village toward finding balance in the diverse nature of our human race. Spectrum Academy combines academic, behavioral, economic, environmental, social, and technological elements for a state-of-the-art model educational village.

Our society has sacrificed the core community connections and values contained within this tribal village application in order to achieve the nominal success of the corporate-driven economy. It is time to restore human ethics and values in our society today. We can begin that process by addressing our worst problems first. Restoring youth and giving them hope by offering healthy opportunities is the first step toward changing the current trends in our global village. Creating the capacity for recognizing healthy choices empowers our future leaders.


Initial Budget Forecasts (reference only)

Key Financial Start-up Assumptions

Charter School  
   Start up –     $     500,000
   Annual Budget –    $  1,200,000
Community Technology Center  
   CTC/Data Center start up –     $  1,900,000
   Annual Budget –  
Residential Treatment Center $  1,100,000
   Start up – (staff and compliance filings) $       71,000
   20-bed annual budget – $  1,854,000
Development Team  
   Facilitator, Architects, Resource Specialists $     300,000
   Land Acquisition $  2,000,000
Construction  $10,000,000
Total  $18,925,000

            This budget is based on previous establishments that were separate business units. A combined synergistic facility and budget offer greater dollar per student services in the initial start-up phases. This village concept brings once disparate elements together as a function system designed to provide a living and working environment for these youth, which is free of as many distractions as possible.

Forecasted Operational and Financial Elements

  • 300 students – charter school is financially operational beginning the fourth year.
  • Forecasted CTC/Data Center business unit reaches break-even in 6th month second year.
  • Forecasted budget for the residential treatment center @ 40 beds to be $2.2 million
  • Cottage industries income will supplement and/or pay for program costs
  • Data Center [SME] creates income for complete program after 5th year.

Financial Assets and Future Returns

  • Maximizing sources and use of funding provides better service to residents
  • Village model has capacity to self-fund within five years
  • Community benefits through increased business, job creation, and healthy youth

Additional Benefits

  • Creation of jobs – i.e. construction, educators, and long-term staff
  • Community and family involvement – from development and day-to-day activity
  • Wrap-around model invites participation from local community and nuclear family
  • Long-term commitment to continued community development and stability


Complete business plan presentation and/or copy are available. Standard NDA required.



Children in Arizona, © 2003 Child Defense Fund, [WWW Document] URL: http://www.childrensdefense.org/familyincome/childreninthestates2003/az.pdf

Commission on Minorities (2002) Equitable Treatment of Minority Youth in the Arizona Juvenile Justice System: A Follow-Up to The 1993 Equitable Treatment Report, Arizona State Supreme Court, Phoenix Arizona

Deloitte Consulting (2004) Evaluation of Arizona’s Juvenile Justice System

Deloitte Consulting Core Findings [WWW Document] URL: http://www.governor.state.az.us/cyf/children/JJDP_Programs/evaluation_JJ.html

Juveniles Processed in the Arizona Court System FY03 (2003) Produced and Published by Arizona Supreme Court, Juvenile Justice Services Division, Phoenix, Arizona

Juvenile Treatment Services Fund (2001) Outcome Data Report – Fiscal Year July 2000 – June 2001, Arizona Supreme Court, Administrative Office of the Courts, Juvenile Justice Services Division, Phoenix Arizona

Melton, Ada Pecos, President, American Indian Development Associates (2004) Indigenous Justice Systems and Tribal Society [WWW Document] URL: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/rest-just/ch1/indigenous.htm

Stromwall, L. K., Brzuzy, S., Sharp, P., & Andersen, C. (1998). The implications of “welfare reform” for American Indian families and communities. In E. A. Segal & K. M. Kilty (Eds.), Pressing issues of inequality and American Indian communities (pp. 1–15). New York: Haworth Press.

 Youth in Transition (2004) ASU Service Learning Course Description [WWW Document] URL: http://www.asu.edu/duas/servicelearning/Youth%20in%20Transition%20Course%20Objectives.doc


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©Spectrum Academy, Inc. 2004-2009

Contact: Zen Benefiel - 480-633-7179

Gilbert, Arizona