Kevin Sved, CEO
Watsonville, Los Angeles

Navigator Watsonville

Connecting the Throughline
“I was inspired to go into education upon seeing the throughline from a high-quality education to employment opportunities that allow individuals to live with dignity and thrive.” After witnessing the significant educational inequities in Los Angeles, Kevin knew he wanted to become involved in the solution. “Charter schools provide an opportunity for school reform that as a young educator felt like the right path.” After co-founding and leading a charter school in Los Angeles for 15 years, Kevin moved to Northern California and joined Navigator School as CEO. “I saw an opportunity to bring my skills to Navigator to support its mission to grow and expand.”

A Need for Change
Founded in 2019 in Watsonville, Los Angeles, Navigator prioritizes small group learning for its students and professional development for its staff. “We provide a safe and secure environment for our students, which is important to our families.” Yet by its second year, Navigator was facing numerous challenges in the space it shared with a traditional public school. As its student population soon outgrew the space, the school had to split up between two separate sites one mile apart. “That strained our administration and was very difficult to manage and have a cohesive school culture.”

In order to have its own unified space, Navigator signed a lease for 41,500 square feet within a 75,000 square foot building in downtown Watsonville. The space had been vacant for over a decade and was in significant need of renovations. Looking for financial support, Navigator connected with Civic Builders, through which the school received a $6 million New Markets Tax Credit Loan. “We knew the NMTC delivery would be optimal for us given our challenges with affording the construction and it was difficult to find organizations that had that allocation. Working with Civic was a very smooth and professional process.”

A Space to Grow
The new building includes a dedicated library space, an assembly room, a play space with climbing walls, and a significant amount of natural light. “Our educational spaces are more suitable for the students now.” Most significantly, the space’s 19 classrooms allow for 565 seats, 265 more than the school’s previous space. This enables Navigator to not only grow significantly, but has alleviated the challenges of managing two separate sites. “Now that we’re in one site together it has reinforced our ability to focus on the academic outcomes of our students. It has definitely strengthened school culture.”

Kevin intends to continue prioritizing high academic outcomes for Navigator, not only for its students but for Watsonville, a community facing significant educational inequities. “If we can do this in the community, it could be a source of inspiration for the broader area. But it’s definitely for our students’ sake and preparing them for what is next – for high school, college and beyond.”

← Return to Stories