Latin American Montessori Bilingual_School Interior

Latin American Montessori Bilingual (LAMB)

Latin American Montessori Bilingual (LAMB)

A Guide Through the Obstacle Course

LAMB’s path to a unified functional facility was beset with challenges. Building Hope helped them weather the storm.

Building Hope’s Role:

Financing | Real Estate Development | School Services

Location: Washington, DC
Grades Served: PK3-5
Number of Students: 430, growing to 600
Square feet of space created: 73,000
Year completed: 2021

Latin American Montessori Bilingual_School Interior
Latin American Montessori Bilingual_School Interior

Building Hope was our constant through it all.

We’ve gone through a lot of transitions, but Building Hope has been our constant through all of that. We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.

Charis Sharp
Executive Director, LAMB

A DC School Navigates Bumpy Roads—Thanks to a Steady Hand at the Wheel

Washington DC’s Latin American Montessori Bilingual (LAMB), which opened in 2003 across three far-flung locations, wanted to consolidate into one campus. They never imagined how challenging it would be.

Crises came one after the other. First, the school lost its principal, executive director, and CFO almost simultaneously. LAMB nevertheless found a facility—a historic private school campus in Washington’s 14th Street corridor—but it took 18 months to get the occupancy permits. Then a neighborhood group sued the zoning board, trying to keep the campus vacant. While that process played out, LAMB’s partner school (with whom they planned to cohabitate the facility) shut down.

“That’s the Reader’s Digest version of the maze we had to run through to get this done,” says Charis Sharp, LAMB’s current executive director. “It was just huge upheaval.”

Through it all, though, the school’s partnership with Building Hope endured.

When the school’s executives departed, Building Hope Services kept the day-to-day administration going. Meanwhile, the Real Estate team refused to back down from either red tape or discontented neighbors, assisting in LAMB’s dealings with both.

Difficulties continued to mount. LAMB and Building Hope realized the entire HVAC system needed replacing—at a steep cost. In addition, just as the neighborhood dispute finally resolved, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, delaying everything yet again.

Again, Building Hope persevered. The Finance team arranged to extend their lending agreements through the pandemic. When the HVAC cut into their budget, Real Estate worked with LAMB to find ways to reduce costs elsewhere in the renovation, without sacrificing quality.

By March of 2021 – four years after LAMB’s pursuit of a single campus began – LAMB’s new facility was ready to accept students for in-person learning. The second phase of the project is getting underway, and Building Hope will manage that work, too.

“We’ve gone through a lot of transitions, but Building Hope has been our constant through all of that,” says Sharp. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without them.”

EXPANDING TO MEET STUDENT NEEDS

104 English-language learners; 17% free and reduced-price lunch; 14% students with disabilities.

They know what to do.

“They know exactly who to talk to and where to go to get done whatever needs to be done.”

– Charis Sharp
Executive Director, LAMB

Latin American Montessori Bilingual_School Interior
Latin American Montessori Bilingual_School Interior
Latin American Montessori Bilingual_School Interior
Latin American Montessori Bilingual_School Interior
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