Help the savior save ISUS

Last week, I wrote about a great charter school that was shutting down, thanks to the way Wall Street has destroyed the housing market.

ISUS, or “Improved Solutions for Urban Systems” has been making a difference in our community for over 20 years. All that of what founder Ann Higdon had built, was about to go to the auction block, destroying any chance of ISUS rising back up.

In Saturday’s DDN we learned that local businessman Craig Vauhgn of Vaughn Interior Concepts was in negotiations to buy the equipment and building to keep it in place, whole. This had been in the works for about two months- and while keeping the assets in place and together so the school can restart, the school probably won’t be open next year.

As any one in education can tell you- closing, even for a year, can cut the number of students down considerably and make it even harder to meet the economies of scale required to make the school work.

This is where you can help. Right now, Chase bank is sponsoring another one of these feel good grant competitions. They are giving away $3 million to 12 small businesses- and while I could be asking you to vote for my business, like local businesses Commuter Advertising and Freeze Frame,  I’m going to ask you to sign in and vote for ISUS- which gives our community a resource for the future- well trained, skilled crafts people to build our future. You have to sign in via Facebook at

If the link doesn’t take you directly to the project- please search for “Vaughn Interior Concepts” and vote.

I find it disheartening that the most powerful country in the world is still capable of buying the F35- at $135 million a pop, but we’re forced to hold fundraising motorcycle runs, bake sales and concerts to put ISUS back in business.

There are people in this community that could write a check for $500,000 right now to put this school back in operation- I can think of three who make over $3 million a year- running companies that gain between half and ALL of their revenue from the taxpayers via the Federal Government. Two of them run Premier Health Partners, one runs Caresource. Mr. Vaughn has stepped up to buy the building and the assets, and will work to support the school in reopening- but, as a small HUBzone, WBE, SDBE, EDGE certified business, he has limited resources.

Mr. Vaugh, a Chaminade Julienne grad, employs 20 people on E. Third street. They make, sell and install custom commercial and health care cabinetry and are a distributor for Midmark, another local company. Believe it or not, while doing work for the VA, Mr. Vaughn has difficulty selling to Premier Health Partners who often overlook local companies (although they are trying to make an effort to do better).

If you know someone who can step in and keep the school operating next year, we’re going to work to change the business model so that the school isn’t dependent on selling the homes they build and the students are going to learn new fine cabinetry skills to make them even more employable thanks to the new partnership with Vaughn Interior Concepts.

To me, Mr. Vaughn is a local hero. Please, help them with your support of the Chase Mission Business Challenge- and tell your friends.

Thank you.


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