Friends of Willow Tree

Project Description

Friends of Willow Tree

In 2018, our bridge loan allowed Friends of Willow Tree to increase access to affordable K–8 education for a student body that is over 70% low-income.

In 2019, we provided Friends of Willow Tree a second bridge loan to build a new permanent facility on 14 acres they already owned in Bonsall.

What they do

Friends of Willow Tree is a nonprofit Waldorf-inspired enrichment center serving a variety of charter and home-schooled students across North County San Diego.

What they stand for

Friends of Willow Tree uses the Waldorf method to inspire a passion for learning and helps students develop the skills they need to develop their full potential. The Waldorf method is heavily based on research into the developmental stages of children with an emphasis on teaching skills when developmentally appropriate. Friends of Willow Tree offers programs on a sliding pay scale in order to make this quality education affordable and accessible to all.

Why we invested

After restructuring from an independent study program within a charter collaborative to a nonprofit resource enrichment center in 2018, Friends of Willow Tree was denied a traditional loan from their bank because their operating history didn’t show how long they’d been doing this kind of work. We provided the enrichment center a $100,000 bridge loan to pay for expenses at the start of the school year ahead of private and state payments.

Learn more about Friends of Willow Tree on their website.

Get to know Bethany Chaffin, director of Friends of Willow Tree, in our back-to-school interview.


2019 — We provided Friends of Willow Tree with a second bridge loan of $250,000 to build a new permanent campus on 14-acres that they own while continuing to make rent payments and offer classes at a temporary location. This loan also allowed the center to increase its number of classrooms to begin serving a new eighth-grade class.

4/2020 — Due to COVID-19 school closures, Friends of Willow Tree began providing training to both teachers and parents to get the most out of virtual coursework. Each teacher developed a virtual roadmap that included recorded lessons, live check-ins, read-a-longs, and show-and-tells. They also continue to offer specialty classes such as woodworking, music, and foreign language in modified formats. 

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Project Details

  • Impact SegmentAdvancing Formative Education
  • Impact VehicleAdvance
  • Investment Details$100,000 loan made in September 2018, $250,000 loan made in August 2019
  • Impact GeographyNorth San Diego County
  • LeadershipBethany Chaffin, Director
  • Year Founded2015