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. – less