Photo credit: Sarah K. Blanco

Compass Rose Public Schools

Compass Rose Public Schools
San Antonio, TX
Financing Used For
Loan Amount
$9.1 million
Loan Length
30-60 months
Number of Loans
Nonprofit Finance Fund

Compass Rose has a clear goal: To put every child on the path to a bright future. As founder and Chief Executive Officer Paul Morrissey explains, “Everything we do is about opening doors for our students and making sure they have all the tools necessary to fulfill their dreams.”

Yet, as Morrissey notes, Compass Rose has an expanded vision of what student success means—and that does not always include college. “That absolute focus on a college degree has saddled lots of students with mountains of debt—and many even drop out without completing their degree. College should be an option, but not the only one.”

That founding mission clearly resonates with the families in their communities. Compass Rose opened in 2017 as a standalone middle school with 95 students. Four years later they have four campuses and 2,000 students. Of note, each campus has a unique focus, one that answers the needs and interests of the surrounding community.

Morrissey continues, “We believe that schools need to be co-designed with the community they serve.” To illustrate his point, Morrissey describes recruiting students for his first school. “I was in the Walmart parking lot, handing out flyers, and talking about ‘high-tech college prep.’ I learned that our focus on technology wasn’t in and of itself a driver of interest for these families. I had to do the work to connect technology with something that was meaningful to the community. They wanted their children to be architects of their own future. I thought, ‘I’m an entrepreneur; I can teach that.’”

So, at Compass Rose Legacy, its first campus in San Antonio now expanded to serve grades K–12, students begin building businesses as early as kindergarten; by high school they will have launched their first start-up. Across town, it was a different story. “Compass Rose Ingenuity, our second campus, is on an active air base. There are great jobs available—but parents need their children to be ready for those jobs. So, we focus on STEM [science, technology, engineering, mathematics] with an aeronautics emphasis.”

Their third San Antonio campus, Compass Rose Journey, was in part shaped by the pandemic. There, students embrace nature-based, place-based, hands-on learning—both indoors and outdoors—that helps them understand their role in their own health and in global health. As Morrissey notes, “It may be the only public health–focused K–6 curriculum in the country.”

BlueHub has been a partner throughout the Compass Rose expansion, providing needed financing for both Compass Rose Legacy and Compass Rose Journey.

“At Compass Rose, we are committed to our communities, and from the moment I started meeting with BlueHub I felt that same commitment. The questions they asked about our schools, about me, about our vision were really affirming. They were clearly interested in elevating our work.”

Paul Morrissey CEO of Compass Rose Public Schools

And then the laptops cinched it.

“In the fall of 2020 our enrollment tripled in size, from 350 to 1100. And we were in a pandemic. Supply chains had blown up. No one knew what was happening. Our students needed computers, and we didn’t know how we would supply them.”

“I was nervous about asking a lender for more money—especially for a nontraditional purpose. But I didn’t know where else to turn. I will never forget the response: ‘We can do that. For sure.’ It was that simple. To me, that speaks to the character of the organization.”

Morrissey has a big vision for the future. “Education is always urgent. If kids are zoned to go to a school that is failing, they will never get those years back. It’s incumbent on us to grow, and to be great. We need to reach kids as fast as quality will allow. BlueHub understands that—and they have been a partner in thinking about growth, in improving practice, and in increasing our access to critical capital.”