Dear THINK Together Team:
Happy Thanksgiving! As we approach THINK Together’s 20th Anniversary, I am so thankful for many things, including and especially each of you. I want to share a recent story to illustrate some of the progress that we’ve made over the last two decades.
This past Saturday, Mary and I had the opportunity to attend a parent picnic for our daughter Emily’s sorority at UC Riverside. At the picnic, we had a chance meeting with Keely Reyes. Keely is Emily’s sorority sister and a graduate of Godinez High School in the Santa Ana Unified School District. I was excited to learn that Keely participated in the THINK Together program beginning at Grant Elementary, our second ever partner school way back when. She now works for our organization as a Substitute Program Leader in our Riverside County region.
Upon meeting Keely, I didn’t make a big deal of her affiliation with THINK Together because having former students come back and work for us is no longer out of the ordinary. We have dozens of them now and I expect that we will soon have hundreds. When we started 20 years ago, there was less than a ten percent chance that the students we served would go to college. We have helped students like Jessica Villeda-Parish (our first college graduate), Nadia Flores and Javier Diaz beat the odds, go to college and graduate. These students worked hard to succeed but THINK Together was part of the support system that helped them to do so.
With the maturing, diversification and scaling of our program offering, including our partnership with Principal’s Exchange, we are helping to change the odds for kids. The students that THINK Together serves today have approximately a thirty percent chance of going to college. In places like Lynwood, where Principal’s Exchange and THINK Together are both able to partner with strong district-level leadership, one out every two students are now college ready. This still isn’t near where we want to be, but we have been part of changing those odds.
So with all that our students and school partners have accomplished filling my heart with gratitude, I want to thank all of you for your contributions. It is a noble calling and you are part of building the next-generation of the American dream for hundreds of thousands of young people that will impact our communities and our state in positive and profound ways.
I often use the phrase “it takes a village” because it really does take help from families, schools and communities to do this work. I truly believe that we have been called by God and blessed along the way. None of this happens without Him! Thank each and every one of you for the vital role you play in our ability to deliver on our mission. I am thankful to you and thankful to God.
May you and your family have a blessed and relaxing Thanksgiving!