Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Founder & CEO
Last year, you may recall, I sent you a letter with one of my favorite pictures enclosed. It was a picture of our students at Jersey Avenue Elementary School dressed up in costumes for career day (below right). The picture expressed the hopes and dreams of those students who want to grow up to be a military officer, an astronomer, a veterinarian, a figure skater, a make-up artist and a nurse.
Statistics tell us that too often dreams such as these are merely pipe dreams for low-income students of color. The average 18-year old Hispanic or African-American student performs at the level of a 13-year old Asian or white student. This wide differential is known as the “achievement gap.” And we think this is the civil rights issue of our day.
In Southern California, more than half of all of our students fall into these underperforming demographics. If we don’t take action, this underperformance will have devastating effects on our future competitiveness in a knowledge-based economy, as well as widen the chasm between the haves and have-nots in our communities.
Despite this dismal backdrop, I have great news! This year’s message provides a written snapshot of the dreams of THINK Together students that have been realized. Now that we have been around for fifteen years, we have students that have graduated from college and settled into their careers. Some of these former students you may have met and others are just being introduced for the first time. They include:
- Javier Diaz – Community Liaison for the Laguna Beach School District. Javier served in the U.S. Marines, received his Bachelor’s degree from CSU Fullerton and his Master’s in Education from Loyola Marymount.
- Nadia Flores - Manager of Community Outreach for THINK Together. Nadia received her Bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Barbara and worked for Univision and several other companies in marketing positions before joining THINK Together. Nadia is now helping us to develop our school support ecosystem model.
- Paolo Leon – Architect, MVE & Partners. He is working on first rate projects such as student housing at UC San Diego and a library in Riverside. Paolo received his Architectural degree from USC.
- America Arias – KABC-TV. America graduated from CSU Fullerton last May after being named one of the Top 100 Journalism Students in the U.S. This summer America landed a great job in a very tough job market.
We have shown that with additional academic support, THINK Together can help these students realize their dreams. Now we are doing this on a large scale. This year, with your support, we served more than 50,000 students at more than 200 schools across four counties in Southern California. Evaluation results show that these students are beating the odds and handily outperforming their peers who don’t attend THINK Together programs.
These are tough economic times. Philanthropy is down and public funding for these programs has been reduced. But, we can’t afford to sell these students short. Please help us help these young people realize their American dream. These students – and indeed California’s future – depend upon it. Donate today.
Thank you in advance for your generous support!
Happy Holidays and best wishes in the New Year.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
wishes everyone "Happy Holidays!"
- Front (l to r): Frances Vasquez, Stephanie Martinez, Michelle Cano, Melissa Lopez
Back (l to r): Josh Felix, Diego Diaz, Jami Mendoza, Irene Bobadilla, FH Mascot, Rebeca Ervin, Sue Cornell, Betsy Vega, Erica Alexander, Ruth Garcia
Monday, December 14, 2009
"...At the other end of the educational hierarchy is little De Anza Elementary in Baldwin Park, where half the students aren't fluent in English and most are poor. As Times staff writer Seema Mehta has reported, De Anza found grants to launch an academic program after the regular school day, and within a year brought its score on the Academic Performance Index up by an astonishing 76 points. Imagine a Race to the Top application that said: If you give us $700 million, we'll use half of it to create thousands of De Anzas. How could any federal bureaucrat resist?"
See Complete Editorial
Founder & Chief Executive Officer
A couple of weeks ago, we started our series on THINK Together’s Strategic Objectives. The Strategic Objectives articulate the priorities of our organization. Through this framework the organization establishes various initiatives; tactics to accomplish those initiatives; and a set of measurements to see how effective these efforts have been.
These measurements (sometimes referred to as metrics) are extremely important. It is an article of faith in high performing organizations that when you measure the performance of some aspect of the organization with specific metrics, you very often improve the performance of that aspect of the organization.
To review, the five Strategic Objectives that THINK Together has established are:
- Program Quality
- Financial Health
- Communications & Technology
- Build Alignment with Instructional Day
- Establish Criteria, Benchmarks and Attendance Targets for New Programs (School Age Care, High School, Early Literacy, Community Sites, Supplemental Educational Services)
- Position Program for Expansion via Staff Development
- Site Assessments – field coaching with the Quality Assurance Coaches to accomplish site assessment goals and rating calibration training with the SC/QAC/GMs
- SES Curriculum – revise to align w/ school day
- Principal Meetings – district meetings and quarterly communications to build relationships and share promising practices for alignment
- Establish criteria for exemplary performance of new programs based on grant requirements, other quality goals and site visits
- Targeted development of high-potential staff via ELF (Elite Leaders of the Future) program; on-going field coaching and establishment of Leadership Learning Communities
- Additional work with the CEL for School Age Care
- Establish “standard” quality checklists for SAC and Community Sites
- 85% of sites will rate seven or higher on the Standard Program Checklist appropriate for the program (afterschool, SAC, and Community Sites)
- 100% sites @ 85%+ ADA
- 5% of programs will attain 85%-94% of the
- 5% of programs will attain 95%-100% of attendance goals
- 90% of enrolled SES students will complete 33 hours of tutoring
- 85% of SES students gain 25%+ improvement in pre-post assessments
- Frequent high school attendees (90 + days of program) will improve school day attendance (baseline year 2008-2009) by 5%
- SAC (Mesa View & Veeh) earn 75% CDD grant based on attendance
- 95% of sites in 2009-2010 will be retained in 2010-2011
- 16 SCs will be ready to move up to QAC; 120 PLs will be ready to move up to SC (organization wide)
Hopefully these initiatives and tactics look familiar to most of you involved in programs since they should comprise much of the work that you are already doing. This strategic objectives dialogue should provide a framework and perhaps some context for your work and a look at how we will be measuring our performance for this objective.
Again I want to request that Site Coordinators share this information with your PL’s and save it for future reference. Thank you so much for all that you contribute to the success of THINK Together and its students.
Have a great week!
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
This ecosystem approach to educating students and creating healthy communities is being developed across THINK Together's Southern California platform. To learn more, click on one of the labels at the bottom of this post.
Friday, December 4, 2009
So, BEGINNING JANUARY 1, 2010, when you sign up on the official Disney website to volunteer a day of service at THINK Together (and your service is completed and verified) you'll get one day admission to a Walt Disney World® or Disneyland® theme park, FREE!
Visit the official Disney website and sign up now to receive reminders and exciting updates about "Give a Day. Get a Disney day."
Thursday, December 3, 2009
November 30, 2009
Whittier students' fitness scores up, but two-thirds still unfit
...Locally, the highest percentage of physically fit kids were fifth-graders in the South Whittier district (33.5 percent); seventh-graders in the Little Lake district (48.1 percent); and ninth-graders at the Whittier Union High School District (42 percent).
Gail Baxter, director of special programs at the South Whittier district, said elementary school teachers have always been able to maintain the required 200 minutes of P.E. every 10 days, and a new wellness committee meets on an ongoing basis to review the district's health and welfare practices and policies.
But its THINK Together afterschool program, which serves about 100 kids at each site, also has an outdoor activity component to it - and likely contributed to the rise in fitness test scores this year.
"So we have kids every day who, instead of going home and being inactive, stay at the school and participate in those programs," Baxter said...
By Tracy Garcia, staff writer
562-698-0955, ext. 3051
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
"…THINK Together is also an amazing program. Mrs. Kocharian (Mrs. K) and Mrs. Dianna are also amazingly patient teachers who were always coming up with new ideas to help Marco release his energy and they also gave him responsibilities to help with, and he lived for these moments. Moments that many teachers would not have taken the time to give a high functioning child because it would be 'too much trouble.' But again, they thought outside the box, and by giving him responsibilities it helped him blossom as a child and also set the bar higher as he did not want to lose his job.See complete letter
"As a Deputy (Juvenile) Probation Officer, but more importantly a mom, I truly understand the difficulty that teachers face in dealing with such a broad spectrum of children, especially when special needs seem to be increasing extremely fast. Many people lose sight of the real goal which is our children, they are quick to throw away the difficult and just focus on the ones they know will 'make it' …"
THINK Together is serious about helping kids achieve!
THINK: Teaching, Helping, Inspiring & Nurturing Kids.