Virgil Elings Donates $4 Million to Build New Facilities at Dos Pueblos High

Santa Barbara Unified School District in partnership with the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Foundation are excited to announce the construction of new state-of-the-art facilities that will support Career Technical Education pathways in Manufacturing, Product Development, Media Arts, and Design. Philanthropist Virgil Elings is the lead donor on the project with a gift of $4 million and the facilities will be named in his honor.

During the October 19th groundbreaking ceremony, Virgil Elings shared his thoughts, “The Engineering Academy offers a world-class education and I want people to know that. Besides, this whole thing is dirt cheap if you calculate how many students are going to be impacted by the new opportunities offered in these buildings — thousands — and to just save a few lives by getting people started on a different track than they’re on is worth it.”  

The $16 million project includes two buildings with 30,000 square feet of specialized educational spaces. These new facilities will allow the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy to expand its ability to impact the community beyond Dos Pueblos High School. DPEA Founder Amir Abo-Shaeer said, “Virgil has supported our vision to transform education for the past 10 years and we are grateful for his generosity. With his support, the Elings Center for Engineering Education was completed in 2012 enabling the DPEA to serve 400+ students annually. We look forward to sharing with our community the expanded vision that will be enabled by the addition of these new facilities.”

This project will also launch a new chapter for the DPHS Media program. Program Director John Dent said, “I am thankful for Virgil’s support and excited about the opportunity to have all of the Media Arts pathway teachers working together in the same facility with interconnected classrooms. Being co-located will allow us to collaborate in new and creative ways to provide a comprehensive Media Arts education to hundreds of students annually. This is a dream come true.”

The school site will be improved significantly with the overhaul of the south side of the campus. Dos Pueblos High School Principal Bill Woodard said, “The contributions of Virgil Elings to facilities projects for the DPHS community have been tremendous. His generous support of this new project gives our school the opportunity to go from merely replacing dilapidated, portable classrooms from the 1970s to creating a hub for Career Technical Education programs. These new facilities will enable our students to learn, create, and collaborate on real-world projects for generations to come.”

This project was initiated with $5 million of Measure I bond money that had been earmarked to replace the aging portables.  These funds were leveraged to raise another $11 million through competitive state grants and philanthropic sources. DPEA Director Emily Shaeer said, “When it was announced that $5 million of bond money had been set aside to replace the portable classrooms, I saw a real opportunity to build something more impactful by applying for additional funding through the state Career Technical Education Facilities Program. After our efforts yielded $4.3 million in grant awards, we turned to local philanthropists like Virgil to seek their support in bringing this project to fruition.”

Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy Foundation President and DPEA Class of 2009 Alum Daniel Huthsing is proud of the Foundation’s track record of supporting the students in the SBUSD, “Virgil Elings has been a long-term advocate and his $4 million gift to our Foundation enables us to expand our vision for education. Our Foundation looks forward to continuing to collaborate with him and other philanthropists to support the objectives of the DPEA program and to launch future initiatives that will impact our community and transform education in our nation.”

Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent Hilda Maldonado said innovation and entrepreneurship always starts with two important words: ‘What if?’

“What if we can dream something new for our students? And, I say yes! I believe that public education has long been missing that innovation opportunity. Sometimes we become stuck in the ‘now’ instead of the ‘what could be’ in the future. What if we partnered more with others? What if we brought people into our public education system instead of closing our doors to that opportunity so that our children could benefit from our partnerships?  I say yes to collaboration, to our partnerships, to innovation, and to leaving a legacy behind that future generations can be inspired by and benefit from.”

SBUSD staff and DPHS teachers worked with KBZ Architects, Inc. to develop the design for the project. The construction contract was awarded to Telacu Construction Management and is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2022.