ORANGE COUNTY, CA-The Simon Youth Foundation, the benevolent arm of the Simon Property Group, has donated 1,200 sf of space in the Shops at Mission Viejo to the Capistrano Unified School District for use as an education center.

Having acquired ownership of the mall and spending millions of dollars in redevelopment and upgrading, Simon offered the school district a location in the newly opened food court area to house its Capistrano Home Outreach Option for Student Education program (CHOOSE). The new CUSD Education Resource Center will allow parents who are home schooling their children a chance to work with certified teachers in designing and implementing curriculum and administering tests. The center also will distribute textbooks and provide library services. The CHOOSE program has 50 students this school year.

“It’s taken about a year in all, because they were developing the mall,” said Jolene Dougherty, director of elementary school operations for CUSD. “The district has to incur the cost for the build-out. We’re saving $100,000 a year for the lease we won’t have to pay, so it’s a big savings for us. Hopefully it will be done by the first of the year.”

The shopping-mall location allows shoppers to stop at the center and learn about CHOOSE, as well as other educational services and programs that they may not know the school district offers. Additionally, the Capistrano Unified Foundation, the fundraising arm of the school district, will be housed at the center.

“Providing local parents and students with this educational resource supports Simon’s commitment to serve as a trusted partner in the Mission Viejo community,” says Arnold Bereson, executive director of the Simon Youth Foundation, which has provided space for education centers operating in 10 other US cities. The Shops at Mission Viejo is one of four new centers that will open before year’s end, with an additional 11 centers planned for start-up next year.

Headquartered in Indianapolis, the Simon Property Group is a self-administered and self-managed real estate investment trust that deals primarily in regional shopping malls and community shopping centers. It currently owns or has an interests in 252 properties containing an aggregate 184 million sf of retail space in 36 states and Europe.

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