THINK Together officially incorporated as a 501 ©3 public benefit organization in 1997 in order to replicate and scale a successful academic support program it had started in 1994 in the Shalimar neighborhood in Costa Mesa, Calif. Our founder, Randy Barth, a successful investment advisor organized a group of volunteers from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, St. Joachim’s Catholic Church and Women of Vision to respond to the plea of the mothers in Shalimar for a safe, quiet place for their children to study and get help with their school work.
Shalimar had been rattled by a series of gang shootings and the mothers had organized to take the neighborhood back from the gang. Out of these efforts, the Shalimar Learning Center and the Shalimar Teen Center were born. Since 1994, more than 300 students from this immigrant neighborhood have graduated high school and gone on to college, the first in their families to do so. The first 75 or so have now graduated college and are teachers, nurses, social workers, accountants, architects, television producers, and THINK Together’s own Executive Director in Orange County. The last six years, 100% of its high school seniors have gone to college including 23 in 2012.
Privately funded, THINK Together established more than a dozen Learning Center’s for elementary and teen students in neighborhoods and subsequently on school campuses. It developed a comprehensive program model that included strong academic support augmented by youth leadership and development, mentoring and other enriching activities.
As state and federal funding began to flow to public schools for afterschool programs, THINK Together developed a public/private partnership model in collaboration with the Tustin and Santa Ana Unified School District’s.
A large expansion of state funding occurred in the 2006-2007 school year with California’s implementation of its Proposition 49 After School Education and Safety (ASES) Act. THINK Together scaled up from 25 sites in Orange County to 180 sites in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties virtually overnight. THINK Together hired 1,000 people in 100 days in a large scale replication.
Since the 2007, THINK Together has sought to accomplish several things. First, to solidify program quality consistently across all of its programs sites. Second, to leverage the infrastructure it has built around schools to integrate other support programs (summer, Saturday, early childhood, parent) into an ecosystem and align it with the school creating a replicable, scalable community schools model (of sorts). Third, we have sought to continue to scale our core programs statewide in order to provide higher quality programs to more students. Over the last four years, THINK Together has again doubled in size to become the largest provider of Extended Learning Time programs in California.
THINK Together’s positive impact on the students and communities we serve is evidenced, in part, by the number of awards and citations we have garnered over the years. Additionally, our programs and achievements have been regularly featured in print, broadcast and online media stories.
2005 – Selected as a Bank of America Neighborhood Builder Awards recipient ($200,000)
2006 – Awarded a $1 million grant from The Irvine Company
2008 – Named by the U.S. Department of Education as one of five National Demonstration Sites to coordinate after-school and supplemental education services (SES)
2008 – Awarded $8.5 million grant from The Irvine Company
2009 – Received $250,000 from Southern California Edison to establish robotics labs at 41 middle schools
2009 – Granted $690,000 from the Children and Families Commission of Orange County to pilot early literacy programs in Santa Ana
2010 – Garnered $936,000 in AmeriCorps grants to support leadership development and community service
2010 – Awarded $500,000 from the Rose Hills Foundation to support programs in Los Angeles County
2010 – Received $200,000 to establish the Raykovich Family College Bound Scholarship Fund for Santa Ana high school students served by THINK Together
2011 – Granted $3.5 million over three years by the Walmart Foundation to provide summer learning programs in three California cities
2011 – Awarded $125,000 from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to expand summer services in Santa Ana
2011 – Awarded $100,000 from the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
2011 – Garnered recurring annual donation of $100,000 from the Ueberroth Foundation
2012 – Granted $1 million by the Children and Families Commission of Orange County
2012 – Awarded $200,000 capacity-building grant from the Weingart Foundation
2012 – Partnered with the j.k. livin foundation (founded by Matthew McConaughey) to expand wellness programs among high school students
2004 – Ethics in America Award, Chapman University Passkeys Foundation
2007 – Diamond Champion, Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce
2009 – Top 20 Best Companies to Work For, OC Metro Business Magazine
2009 – Afterschool Champion, Afterschool Alliance
2009 – Special Service to Community, City of Santa Ana Board of Recreation and Parks
2011 – Top 10 CEOs, OC Metro Business Magazine
2011 – Community Pillar Award, Assemblyman Jose Solorio