A quiet crisis threatens the potential of many people of our county. Research shows an alarming achievement gap in our local education system related to the low success rates—and graduation rates—of children from low-income and mostly Latino families. Research also demonstrates that this gap is readily apparent on the first day of school, commencing a downward spiral. The correlations are as stunning as they are simple. Children unprepared to vigorously engage kindergarten fall behind quickly and often do not learn to read by the third or fourth grade. Those who do not learn to read by fourth grade have astronomical high school dropout rates. Students who drop out of high school are far more vulnerable to gang recruitment and incarceration. These facts provide a bleak picture for these underserved children, while also revealing an equally uncertain future for us all.
An exciting public–private collaborative has formed over the last 18 months that focuses funding, knowledge, and attention on preparing and readying the next generation of Santa Barbara County residents for productive lives. The founders of THRIVE see it as no less than a matter of our protecting our collective economic future in Santa Barbara County. THRIVE is modeled on other successful community initiatives that invest in building a generation of productive and responsible adults, ready to provide for and take care of their communities.
THRIVE is a working collaborative, based on the cradle-to-career approach pioneered by Geoffrey Canada, creator of the now famous and well-regarded Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City.
- Key Santa Barbara County Facts
Only about 18% of children enter Kindergarten ready to learn and succeed.
Third grade 2010 California Standardized Test results show that about only 27% of children are proficient in Math and just 23% are proficient in English-Language Arts countywide.
The high school dropout rate for the county is 10.3%, which represents 557 students, out of whom 393 are Hispanic (70% of the total).
Only about 40% of families know how to access services to cope with stress, particularly in times of crisis or intensified need.
THRIVE is working in several local communities to first, dramatically improve school readiness, and then over time, employ strategies that address college readiness and then college completion. A core principle of THRIVE is parent involvement because the research is clear—and common sense dictates—that when parents are engaged in their children’s success at every stage, student success rates soar.
To date, the most advanced model of the collaborative’s work is at the Carpinteria Children’s Project at the Main School, with a second effort evolving on Santa Barbara’s Westside. Three other communities, Guadalupe, Santa Maria, and Isla Vista, are in the planning phases of similar efforts.
The partnership has worked for two years to create a sustained and results oriented community-wide commitment. THRIVE's work is built on partnerships and collaborations with families, schools, early childhood education, government, the business community, nonprofit and service organizations, foundations and other funders. First 5 serves as the operating partner of the partnership, overseeing evaluation, contracts, and technical assistance.
The THRIVE founders are seeking to work with other foundations and community members to raise the funds necessary to sustain and expand this vital program and has established a fund through the Santa Barbara Foundation to accept gifts. To find out more information, or to get involved, contact THRIVE Executive Director, Anita Perez Ferguson, at Anita@thriveSBC.org or (805) 636-6530 or Santa Barbara Foundation Vice President of Philanthropic Services, Jan Campbell, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 963-1873.
THRIVE believes the community - which means all of us - has a moral covenant with the next generation of Santa Barbara County residents, beginning from birth to career, to prepare and ready them to lead productive lives.
Aliso Elementary School
Brittingham Family Foundation
Bruce Elementary School
Canalino Elementary School
Carpinteria Unified School District
Community Action Commission
Cottage Health System
Fairlawn Elementary School
Goleta Unified School District
Guadalupe Unified School District
Harding University Partnership
Isla Vista Youth Projects
Isla Vista Elementary School
La Centra Sumerlin Foundation
La Cumbre Junior High School
Mary Buren Elementary School
McKinley Elementary School
San Marcos High School
Santa Barbara City College
Santa Barbara County Education Office
Santa Barbara County Supervisors
Santa Maria-Bonita Unified School District
University of California, Santa Barbara
Along with the Santa Barbara Foundation, the original founding partners are:
James S. Bower Foundation
Hutton Parker Foundation
First 5 of Santa Barbara County
The Philanthropic Initiative
The Wood - Claeyssens Foundation
Since then, the Linked Foundation, La Centra Summerlin Foundation, the Brittingham Family Foundation, and Cottage Health System have also become co-investors. The effort is bolstered by independent evaluation from the Gevirtz School of Education at UCSB, and a strong partnership with local school districts. Currently, the funding partnership is providing well over $2 million a year for local nonprofits and districts involved in this effort.
Jon Clark, executive director of the James S. Bower Foundation, discusses the THRIVE initiative in an interview with Karen Pelland, interview and features producer for KDB 93.7 FM. Jon shares his reflections on how the collaborative is getting serious about education in Santa Barbara County in order to close the achievement gap plaguing America’s school system.
Karen Pelland, interview and features producer for KDB 93.7 FM, visits an Avance parenting class in the Carpinteria Unified School District, interviewing a parent who has benefitted from this program.