DOOR TO LEARNING OPENS WIDER FOR ORANGE COUNTY’S YOUNGEST CHILDREN

Innovative Funding Arrangement Between THINK Together and Children and Families Commission Assures Critically Needed Early Learning Programs for at Least 10 Years

SANTA ANA, Calif., September 5, 2012 – Tens of thousands of Orange County’s youngest children will benefit from high-quality early literacy and math programs for at least the next 10 years, the result of an innovative funding arrangement between THINK Together and the Children and Families Commission of Orange County.

Since 2010, the Commission has partnered with THINK Together – a leading academic support provider — to deliver countywide early literacy programs. Earlier this year, the Commission approved a one-time $5 million allocation of catalytic funding to THINK Together to ensure the sustainability of early literacy and math programs throughout the county.  The two organizations worked together to craft a 10-year partnership, leveraging other funding sources to offset THINK Together’s current operating expenses, and obligating THINK Together to deliver early learning services countywide for the next 10 years.

Seeking to leverage the grant in a way that would enable it to sustain children’s early learning programs, THINK Together used the investment to acquire a 52,600-square-foot office complex on Fourth Street in Santa Ana to accommodate its growing operations and staff. By purchasing the property and moving into one complex the organization will save $750,000 in rent annually. The savings will be used to directly fund critically needed early learning programs for at least a decade.

“Because we were able to purchase this property for cash, we will now be able to reinvest the money we would have otherwise paid in rent in countywide literacy and math programs for preschool-age children,” said THINK Together CEO Randy Barth.

Studies have shown how vitally important early learning and math skills are to children’s long-term academic success.  Last year nearly 60,000 young children benefited from early learning programs at schools and clinics in Orange County.  Throughout its history, the Commission has supported numerous early learning programs, including Reach Out and Read, Raising A Reader, Math is Everywhere and Read for the Record, to name a few.

“The Commission is investing in long-term programs to sustain the health and early education of young children throughout Orange County,” said Sandra Barry, chair of the Children and Families Commission of Orange County. “Our partnership with THINK Together ensures that early literacy and math programs that are critical to a child’s success will continue well into the future.”

The Children and Families Commission contracts with THINK Together to provide early learning programs that serve more than 57,000 children and their families countywide. Programs target children ages 0 to 5 and their parents and use highly cost-effective, evidence-based tools to ensure children have basic literacy, vocabulary and math skills to prepare them for kindergarten.  THINK Together’s program also includes physical activities (CATCH for Preschool) and science activities to encourage curiosity and critical thinking.

Barth noted that less than half of Orange County’s low-income students have access to quality early childhood education.  One in three children enters kindergarten lacking the basic pre-reading and math skills which are proven to be a key factor in determining high school graduation and lifelong success.

About THINK Together
THINK Together is one of the leading and largest nonprofit providers of academic support programs (early literacy, after-school, small group tutoring, summer learning, etc.) in the U.S., serving more than100,000 students at more than 420 locations across 30 school districts and more than 30 cities across a five-county footprint of Southern California (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego) plus greater Sacramento. Partnering with school administrators and teachers, its academically oriented programs and dedicated team of 2,500 employees are helping students close the achievement gap. THINK is an acronym: Teaching, Helping, Inspiring & Nurturing Kids. For more information, call (888) 485-THINK or visit www.THINKtogether.org or www.facebook.com/THINKtogether.

About the Children and Families Commission of Orange County
The Children and Families Commission of Orange County oversees the allocation of funds from Proposition 10, which added a 50-cent tax on tobacco products sold in California. Almost $47 million was allocated last year to fund 170 programs that served more than 165,800 young children.  Funds help pay for early education, pediatric primary and specialty health care, children’s dental, homeless prevention, and child development programs for children from the prenatal stage to age 5 and their families. The Commission’s goal is to ensure all children are healthy and ready to learn when they enter school.  For more information, please visit www.occhildrenandfamilies.com.