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 2625 N. Tustin Ave
 Santa Ana, CA 92705
[P] (714) 3269736
[F] --
[email protected]
Cassi Clausen
 Printable 1 Page Summary
 Printable Profile
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years No
Employer Identification Number 46-0745295 00000


Mission StatementMORE »

The Open School is an institution founded on the principles of genuine freedom and personal autonomy. Enrollees age 5-18 engage in self governance through participatory democracy that has real impact on their daily lives, and spend their time in self-directed exploratory pursuits.

Mission Statement

The Open School is an institution founded on the principles of genuine freedom and personal autonomy. Enrollees age 5-18 engage in self governance through participatory democracy that has real impact on their daily lives, and spend their time in self-directed exploratory pursuits.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year 2020
Projected Expenses $130,000.00
Projected Revenue $142,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Full Time Democratic Education
  • Under 5 Friday

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2018 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

The Open School is an institution founded on the principles of genuine freedom and personal autonomy. Enrollees age 5-18 engage in self governance through participatory democracy that has real impact on their daily lives, and spend their time in self-directed exploratory pursuits.

Background Statement

The Open School began formation in 2012 and opened for enrollment in 2015. We are modeled after Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, MA, which was founded in 1968 and has proven time and again that giving children personal freedoms and respect creates adults who are independent, responsible, intrinsically motivated, problem solvers. Our students experience a space where they have autonomy, agency, and voice in a way that's unparralleled in other school systems. And with those personal freedoms, they engage in their lives and community, taking ownership of their decisions and their school. 
The Open School was founded by Cassi Clausen, Matt Dale, Ben Page, Lauren Sukumar, and Josh Clausen. Soon after opening, Tay Parker, Aaron Browder, and Mire Molnar joined the staff and became part of our origination.  Our founding board president is Jon Cassie. In 2019, we created a tiered board structure to support subsidiary campuses which are autonomous in their operations but subject to the core values and mission of The Open School. 

Impact Statement

In the past year we have increased our enrollment and staffing by 20% and increased fundraising by 25%. Our board membership has increased in number and engagement. We shifted to a Sliding Scale tuition based on ability to pay in order to serve families from all economic backgrounds. In the coming year, we will open a second campus in Lake Elsinore and establish an institute for the advancement of Open Schools which will support new campuses in the future with services, grants, and training. 

Needs Statement

Our most urgent needs are community outreach and education related. Two of our staff are co-writing a book, and three of our founders are speakers who are looking to engage the wider community on the topic of learner-centered democratic education. We are also always in need of funds to continue to give our school financial security. We are going to be seeking grants for supporting new campuses, including salary subsidies for new schools, trainings, school program and materials, and community events and education. 

CEO Statement

I am proud to be a part of the only democratic free school in Southern California, and on the front lines advocating for student-centered education and authentic human rights for kids. We believe in the inherit curiosity of children and their abilities to challenge themselves in new ways, solving problems as they come up. We have seen that when kids are given the opportunity, they astound us with their capabilities, their passion, and their wisdom. These are gifts they can give the world as we remove the restrictions that our society has placed on them. 

Board Chair Statement

Open School is a growing and innovative school with a mission unlike any other school in Orange or Riverside Counties. As a free and democratic school, the Open School of Orange County allows its students to guide their own learning without top-down curricula imposed by the state or by its leadership (free) and governs itself as a democratic community where all members of the school share in the responsibility of governing the school (democratic). My board colleagues and I are endlessly excited about the ways in which the school community grows year on year and grows in its ability to live a life as a free and democratic school community. It's fascinating! One of the most interesting parts of being on this school's board is learning how to practice board best practices for a school that is democratic. Because of this, the board's primary mission is to ensure that the school can and does continue to function as a democratic community. The board's mission and objectives are therefore quite different from the traditional board that sets mission, hires/fires the school's leadership and takes much greater responsibility over areas that are, in this school, the purview of the school's community itself. I love being a part of this board, and serving as its president, because our members are deeply committed to democratic values and entrepreneurial intention.

Other Ways to Donate/Volunteer

Financial donations can be made via Paypal (send to [email protected]) or by mailing a check. We also welcome material donations for our school. Please contact [email protected] to make arrangements.We offer periodic work days for volunteers and also have on-campus volunteer opportunities during the school year. Contact us for more information. 

Geographic Area Served

Central Orange County
West Orange County
South Orange County
North Orange County
Our Orange County campus is located in Santa Ana, the centrality of which means that families drive from all over the county to attend the school. We envision opening another 1-2 campuses in Orange County in addition to our new campus in Riverside County this year. 

Organization Categories

  1. Education - Elementary & Secondary Schools
  2. Youth Development - Alliances & Advocacy
  3. -



Full Time Democratic Education

This is the heart of what The Open School does. Students attend our school for 5 hours/day, 5 days/week. They have full autonomy over their time, body and property and engage with the school governance democratically.
Budget  125,000
Category  Education, General/Other Educational Programs
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  Children who believe in themselves and know their own power. Students who take responsibility for their actions, and become more and more engaged in their own lives. 
Program Long-Term Success  Increase in adults who have learned who they are and how to impact the world around them. Increase in adults who look back on their childhood as a time they were happy and free, and carry those attributes into their adulthood. 
Program Success Monitored By  Our internal justice system tracks that maturing process of each student, taking note of their ability to keep themselves accountable and take ownership of their actions. For graduates, we will have alumni surveys every 5 years to find out what the graduates have been doing and how they reflect on their schooling.
Examples of Program Success  When Carlos first came to The Open School at age 10, he was angry at everyone. He has internalized the message from his public school that making a mistake wasn't okay and that he was full of mistakes. He was defensive and evasive. But after 2-3 months at our school, he began to believe more in himself, and that his essence is valuable, just because he's human, not for anything he produces. He also learned that making mistakes is okay, and that all you have to do is own up to them. His anger disappated. He became jovial and creative. He engaged with the democratic system of the school by serving in a couple of different elected positions. He is now a student who models for the younger kids that owning up to your decisions is a good thing, and not scary when you're not being shamed for them. He is also a caring young man who is first to help another kid in need. The original Carlos is a distant memory.

Under 5 Friday

We offer the opportunity for children under 5 years old to experience the independence and play of our school. Parents bring their children for 2 hours each Friday in the fall to enjoy a little break and the opportunity to chat with our staff and other likeminded parents. 
Budget  $5,000.00
Category  Education, General/Other Early Childhood Education
Population Served Infants to Preschool (under age 5)
Program Short-Term Success  In the short term, we look for a full class of Under 5 kids and their parents at both campuses and for those families to continue in the program from session to session. A retention of 80% is considered successful for this program. 
Program Long-Term Success 
The goal of this program is increase awareness of democratic education to local families. Many parents begin looking for alternative schooling options from the time their first child is born. Waiting until those children are school age to involve them in the student-centered movement is a waste of 5 years. These parents have the time and intention to learn more about different philosophies of education, and we want to provide them with the information they need to make an informed schooling decision.
Retention throughout the program and into our full time program is our metric for success for Under 5 Friday. A rate of 40% enrollment into the K-12 program when the child is school aged, or enrollment into a similar type school in another geographic location.  
Program Success Monitored By  Success is  monitored by weekly attendance and student engagement. Particularly, when young participants grow in independence from their care givers, demonstrating self-advocacy and problem-solving with less adult intervention.
Examples of Program Success  --


CEO/Executive Director Cassi Clausen
CEO Term Start June 2012
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience Cassi is the original founder of The Open School, beginning the process in 2012. Other founders joined her early on and the momentum grew until she began operating the school in her own home in 2015. Cassi has a Masters of Education from University of Missouri, St Louis and over 18 years of experience working with students in and outside of traditional education. 

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


Slink - Sudbury School Consortium

Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 4
Number of Part Time Staff 0
Number of Volunteers 2
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % 100%
Staff Professional Development Yes

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: --
Asian American/Pacific Islander: --
Caucasian: 4
Hispanic/Latino: --
Native American/American Indian: --
Other: --
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 3
Male: 1
Not Specified --

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? --
Organization has Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Management Succession Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No

Risk Management Provisions

Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No

Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? No
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Semi-Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Semi-Annually

Government Licenses


CEO Comments


Foundation Comments



Board Chair Jon Cassie
Board Chair Company Affiliation TVT Community Day School
Board Chair Term July 2019 - June 2020
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Tay Arrow Open School, Lake Elsinore Voting
Aaron Browder Open School, Santa Ana Voting
Jon Cassie TVT Community Day School Voting
Cassi Clausen Open School, Santa Ana Voting
Matt Dale Paloma Valley High School Voting
Adil Karamally -- Voting
Andrew Lee New Millenium Secondary School Voting
Ben Page Shinrin Yoku LA Voting
Ingrid Shultz Cemtek Environmental Voting
James Spady Soka University Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Additional Board Members and Affiliations

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 6
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: --
Other (if specified): Indian - 1
Gender Female: 2
Male: 6
Not Specified 1

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 3
Board Meeting Attendance % 90%
Written Board Selection Criteria --
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy --
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 33%
Board Orientation Yes

CEO Comments


Foundation Comments


Standing Committees

  • Board Governance
  • Communications / Promotion / Publicity / Public Relations
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Finance


Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2018 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Fiscal Year July 01, 2019 to June 30, 2020
Projected Revenue $142,000.00
Projected Expenses $130,000.00
Form 990s

2017 990 EZ FY2017

2016 July 2016-June 2017 tax return

2015 990 EZ Jun 2015-July 2016

2015 Form 990

2014 990 N Postcard Jun 2014-July 2015

2013 990 N Postcard Jun 2013-July 2014

Audit Documents --
IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Total Revenue $129,820 $103,808 $106,980
Total Expenses $112,716 $104,286 $105,642

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Revenue By Revenue Source
Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$24,497 $9,622 --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions -- -- $2,003
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $101,751 $85,195 $85,398
Investment Income, Net of Losses $1 $1 --
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events $3,571 $8,990 $19,579
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Expense By Type
Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Program Expense $71,406 $67,071 $65,857
Administration Expense $36,473 $32,804 $35,374
Fundraising Expense $4,837 $4,411 $4,411
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.15 1.00 1.01
Program Expense/Total Expenses 63% 64% 62%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 17% 24% 20%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Total Assets $58,529 $21,542 $32,221
Current Assets $48,108 $8,890 $35,524
Long-Term Liabilities -- -- --
Current Liabilities $23,430 $3,547 $-3,303
Total Net Assets $35,099 $17,995 $32,221

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 2.05 2.51 -10.76

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2018 2017 2016
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%
Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? Anticipated In 3 Years
Capital Campaign Purpose To raise funds for capital improvements and developing new campuses and spaces. 
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes

CEO Comments


Foundation Comments

Summary financial data is per the audited financial statements and Form 990s and consultation with the organization. Foundation/corporate and individual contributions are combined under Foundation and Corporation Contributions.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.