Celebrating the Many Faces of Humanity

THINK Together is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which partners with school districts to provide free extended learning time programs in low-income communities. Each year, THINK Together serves over 75,000 K-12 students at over 300 schools throughout 27 school districts in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties. These programs include after-school, summer, Saturday, and small group tutoring programs. In addition, THINK Together serves over 2,000 pre-K children through early literacy programs at 30 schools and 60 physicians’ offices throughout Orange County.  THINK Together provides these educational programs as a result of the work and service of over 2,000 staff, 5,000 volunteers, and 90 full-time AmeriCorps members.

To commemorate September 11, 2001, THINK Together will be providing two days of Service and Remembrance during after-school hours (2pm to 6pm) on September 8th and 9th. The program will serve over 30,000 K-12 students  in the following counties and school districts in California: Los Angeles County (Azusa, Baldwin Park, Bassett, Duarte, El Rancho, Lynwood, Little Lake, Los Nietos, Mountain View, South Whittier); Orange (Orange, Santa Ana, Tustin); Riverside (Jurupa, Lake Elsinore, Temecula, Moreno Valley, Val Verde); San Bernardino (Colton, Cucamonga, Ontario Montclair, Redlands, Rialto, Victorville); San Diego (Oceanside); and Sacramento (Elk Grove and Sacramento City). In addition to over 2,000 THINK Together staff and school day teachers, we expect that over 1,400 volunteers from local colleges, businesses and community groups will gather to honor and recognize the victims of 9/11 and celebrate peace, unity and life.

THINK Together’s programs serve a diverse community with many recent immigrants.  These students are 84% Hispanic, 5.6% Caucasian, 4.8% African American, 2.6% Asian/Pacific Islander, 0.5% American Indian/Alaskan Native, and 2.5% multiracial.  Over 87% qualify for free and reduced priced meals, and 42% are English Learners.  Many students, particularly those in lower grades, are not familiar with the events of September 11, 2001.  The days of service and remembrance will honor those who died and those who have served because of the tragedies of 9/11.

The theme for the days of remembrance is that each person is different and because of that we each have a unique contribution to make in the world.  Volunteers and staff will work directly with students in providing the program components. The program will begin with a focus on the events of September 11th, remembering those who died, and the different organizations who served (e.g. NYPD, NYFD, the Red Cross and other aid organizations).  Younger students (grades K-3) will participate in art, science, literature, cooking, math and other opportunities to demonstrate how in the world, variety, each unique contribution, is what comes together to make things work.  Older students (grades 4-12) will learn from the story of Mauritius, a small island nation in the Indian Ocean with a highly diverse population and the longest history of uninterrupted democracy in Africa. Students will learn from the Mauritian people who recognize the right of everyone to be different and encourage brotherhood and the tolerance of various cultures.  Activities will help youth get to know others and see how alike they are while celebrating their unique talents and gifts. Lessons will be presented in grade level clusters:  K-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, and 9-12.

Students will also study the One World Trade Center building, also known as the Freedom Tower, which is expected to have a topping out ceremony in late 2011 and completed in late 2013. Students will learn how the Freedom Tower is a symbol of the rehabilitation for those hurt by the terrorists and represents healing this scar on our nation. This tower also represents new growth which is part of the healing process.

These project-based learning opportunities will culminate in an event which will be voted on by participants. Options for K-3 students would be a remembrance quilt or collage. Students in grades 4-8 could create a giant puzzle with names on each piece to celebrate diversity. High school students would develop their own appropriate event; one example would be signing a "Peace Now" petition. This culminating event will be attended by school day teachers and administrators as well as families and other members of the community.

THINK Together will publicize the events through social media such as THINK Together’s website and blog (over 50,000 page views a month), Facebook (over 3,200 fans), and Twitter (over 900 followers). THINK will also publicize the events through print media such as flyers to parents and members of the community. Since for many school sites, September 11th comes soon after the beginning of the school year, these flyers will be distributed to parents as they register their students for the after-school program.

THINK Together utilizes OrgAction, an online, secure platform that gathers, tracks, and analyzes volunteer information. THINK Together staff are able to enter volunteer data via computer and easily report upon at any time of day.  OrgAction will capture volunteers’ contact information which will be reported on or before September 14, 2011.  Reports with volunteer contact info will be presented in excel spreadsheets.