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Think Together’s Hernan Sanchez Named Among 2022 Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders by National Afterschool Association

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Awardees were recognized during the NAA22 Convention in Las Vegas, March 20-23, 2022.

Think Together, California’s leading nonprofit provider of afterschool, expanded learning and school improvement programs, is proud to announce the National AfterSchool Association (NAA), has named Think Together Family and Community Engagement Coordinator Hernan Sanchez as one of the National Afterschool Association’s (NAA) 2022 Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders. Hernan was recognized and celebrated alongside 19 other NextGen Leaders during the NAA22 convention in Las Vegas, March 20-23.

Hernan Sanchez joined Think Together in January 2021, quickly gaining recognition among his peers before celebrating his one-year anniversary with the organization. In his role he helps connect families and communities to resources that help support their children in school, such as library memberships, program enrollment, financial literacy and more. Hernan earned accolades from leadership throughout the industry for his ability to connect with others on a personal level, despite the unprecedented challenges educators and afterschool professionals have faced during the pandemic.

“When you think of the next generation of afterschool leaders, you think of someone who not only looks at the impact on kids and their community, but also sees that expanded learning is a complete support system for our families,” said Think Together Executive General Manager Johanna Lizarraga. “This comes down to innovation and thinking outside the box. Hernan doesn’t see afterschool as just supporting the student. He sees it as fortifying their support system in and out of the classroom.”

The Family and Community Engagement Team at Think Together is a new department cultivated during the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic when Think Together saw that families needed additional support connecting to resources such as the internet, technology, school supplies, and meal services.

Their work has since evolved to give families the tools to support the student’s school day as well as pave a path to college and career readiness, assist with literacy and related educational development services. Think Together has a Family and Community Engagement Team coordinator supporting each of the organization’s nine regions.

“We are so proud of Hernan for his passion and commitment to Think Together’s mission,” said Founder and CEO of Think Together Randy Barth. “In his short time with the organization, he is making an impact that makes us excited to see what he will accomplish next with us.”

Think Together is thrilled to have Hernan join the ranks of previous honorees of the Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders. In 2021, Helen Welderufael, then regional operations analyst for Think Together’s San Bernardino Region, received the award and has since been assumed the role of talent acquisition operations manager. In 2018, Alberto Bajaras, then quality assurance coach for Think Together’s San Bernardino Region was awarded and has since climbed the ranks to Director of Program and Operations for the region. Stacy Galdamez, executive general manager for Think Together was named in 2017 and was also a quality assurance coach at the time of her recognition.

In selecting its 2022 Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders honorees, the National AfterSchool Association sought to highlight emerging young leaders under the age of 30 who are active in the broader afterschool community, demonstrate contributions that have started to influence beyond individual programs to entire organizations and communities, are actively engaged in efforts to elevate the afterschool field, have a proven passion for the development of themselves and others, and demonstrate persistence in their work to grow within their roles.

“This group of leaders represents the creativity, dedication, and commitment of the best of our next generation of the afterschool profession. We are honored to recognize them because we know the important role strong leadership plays in promoting positive outcomes for children and youth,” said Gina Warner, President and CEO, National AfterSchool Association.

An estimated 10.2 million young people participate in afterschool programs each year and the industry employs an estimated 850,000 professionals and leaders. The National AfterSchool Association is a professional membership association that fosters positive youth outcomes by supporting, developing, and advocating for afterschool professionals and leaders.

Honorees were profiled in the Spring 2022 issue of NAA’s AfterSchool Today magazine. A digital edition of the magazine may be viewed here.

The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.

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Education

California State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Inspires at Inland Empire Education and Workforce Summit

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Resilience and Readiness: Navigating Post-Pandemic Challenges at the Inland Empire Education and Workforce Summit

In an effort to address the lingering impacts of the pandemic on education and workforce readiness, the fourth annual Inland Empire Education and Workforce Summit took place at the Ontario Airport Hotel and Conference Center on April 24. This year’s event, organized by Think Together in collaboration with the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce, saw a packed house of educators, business leaders, and elected officials.

The summit kicked off with an insightful presentation by Dr. Alex McDonald from Kaiser Permanente, shedding light on the intersection of healthcare, education, and workforce development. Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, the summit underscored the importance of initiatives that enhance overall community well-being while supporting academic success.

Randy Barth, Founder and CEO of Think Together, set an inspiring tone by introducing Jusbith Aguayo, a student speaker from Eisenhower High School, who shared her personal journey and highlighted the significant impact of educational support programs on students’ lives. Aguayo’s testimony emphasized the transformative power of education and community collaboration in overcoming barriers to success, especially in the face of unprecedented challenges brought about by the pandemic.

Following Aguayo’s heartfelt speech, Barth led an expert panel comprising leaders from education, workforce development, and healthcare sectors. Dr. Angelo Farooq, Dr. Carol Tsushima, Dr. Scott Price, Dr. Douglas Mack, and Connie Leyva engaged in discussions centered on preparing students for success in the workforce amidst the ongoing challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

A highlight of the summit was the keynote address delivered by California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond. Thurmond emphasized the critical importance of equitable access to quality education and stressed the necessity for sustained collaboration among educators, policymakers, and community stakeholders. His address resonated deeply with attendees, underscoring the collective commitment to ensuring the success and prosperity of students across the Inland Empire.

Thurmond capped off the event, commending the efforts to bridge the gap between school-day learning and future success through afterschool programs that expose students to career-ready experiences. He emphasized the importance of investments in apprenticeship programs, paid internships, and workforce readiness initiatives to ensure students are equipped with the skills needed to thrive in the real world.

For more information about Think Together and their impactful programs, visit www.thinktogether.org. Additionally, to learn more about the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce and its efforts to support commerce and economic growth, visit www.iechamber.org.

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Education

Unlocking Potential: Fostering Inclusion and Innovation through Entrepreneurial Education at REAL Journey Academies

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The REAL Journey Academies Entrepreneur High School Model / Inclusive Education Programming

Inclusive education is a fundamental right for all students.  REAL Journey Academies was founded on this principal. The unique high school programs of Entrepreneur High Schools in Fontana and San Bernardino integrate entrepreneurship and career & technical education (CTE) to offer a unique opportunity to unlock the potential of students and prepare them for success in the constantly evolving century workforce. By providing tailored support, fostering self-confidence, and nurturing entrepreneurial skills, our unique high school program empowers students with IEPs and hidden talents to thrive academically, professionally, and personally.

This white paper explores the values of  our entrepreneurship focused high school program for students with IEPs and hidden talents, highlighting the program’s potential to promote inclusion, boost self-esteem and cultivate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.  The value proposition of our programming, in relationship to inclusive education, include:

  1. Promoting Inclusion:
    • Our entrepreneurship focused program focuses on full inclusion by providing students with diverse learning needs, including those with IEPs and hidden talents, with opportunities to actively participate in hands-on, experiential learning experiences.
    • By embracing diversity and fostering a sense of belonging, the entrepreneurship focused program of REAL Journey Academies empowers all students to realize their full potential and become active members of their communities.
  2. Boosting Self-Esteem:
    • Entrepreneurship focused programming at its core boost self-esteem and confidence by recognizing and celebrating students’ individual strengths, interests, and talents.
    • Through project-based learning and real-world experiences, students in an Entrepreneur High School have the opportunity to showcase their skills, gain recognition for their achievements, and build a positive sense of self-worth.
    • Our program is designed to give students the support and encouragement they need to overcome challenges, set ambitious goals, and pursue pathways to success that align with their unique abilities and aspirations.
  3. Cultivating a Culture of Innovation:
    • Our entrepreneurship focused program cultivates a culture of innovation by encouraging students to think creatively, problem-solve collaboratively, and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
    • By providing students with the tools, resources, and mentorship they need to explore their passions and develop their talents, the unique Entrepreneur High School Program is designed to inspire a lifelong love of learning and skills associated entrepreneurship.
    • Through extensive work-based learning experiences and real-world projects, Entrepreneur High School students have the opportunity to unleash their creativity, tap into their potential, and make meaningful contributions to society.

The REAL Journey Academies’ entrepreneurship focused high school program has immense value for all students, including those with IEPs and hidden talents. By promoting inclusion, boosting self-esteem, and cultivating a culture of innovation, at its foundation our program is designed to empower students to overcome barriers, fulfill their potential, and pursue their dreams. As we strive to build a more equitable and inclusive society, investing in developing entrepreneurial skills in students with diverse learning needs is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic investment in our collective future

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Business

IE Chamber and AmCham Peru Forge Strategic Partnership for Business and Youth Development

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Building Global Bridges: IERCC and AmCham Peru Unite for Cross-Continental Business Growth and Youth Empowerment

On December 12, 2023, a landmark event unfolded as the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce (IERCC) took a significant step in expanding its international influence by forging a strategic partnership with The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Peru. In a meeting that symbolized the dawn of a new era in cross-continental collaboration, Eddy Sumar, MBA, CCE, CICE, an esteemed member and Chair of Education and Youth Skills Development at IERCC, presented Mr. Aldo R. Defilippi, the Executive Director of AmCham Peru, with the Certificate of Honorary Global Member.

This partnership marks IERCC’s foray into the Latin American continent, signifying a major stride in its mission to build collaborative networks that facilitate market entry and growth for US and Peruvian companies. IERCC President and CEO Edward Ornelas, Jr. commented on this milestone, stating, “This partnership with AmCham Peru is a significant achievement for IERCC. It represents our dedication to fostering international business relations and our commitment to the growth of businesses in both regions. We are excited to embark on this journey, offering our members unprecedented access to new markets and opportunities.”

The collaboration between IERCC and AmCham Peru is set to open new avenues for businesses in both regions. It will enable members of AmCham Peru to tap into the vast resources and connections that IERCC offers, thereby facilitating smoother market entry and business expansion.

A key focus of the partnership is the development of youth and education programs. During the meeting, Mr. Aldo R. Defilippi was introduced to various initiatives led by IERCC aimed at empowering young entrepreneurs and business leaders of tomorrow. Further emphasizing this commitment, Mr. Defilippi received a copy of “The Hidden Dreams,” authored by Eddy Sumar, which explores the importance of identifying and pursuing the aspirations of young individuals.

Mr. Ornelas, Jr. further elaborated on the significance of this aspect, stating, “Our focus on youth and education is a testament to our belief that the future of business lies in the hands of the next generation. By aligning with AmCham Peru, we are not just expanding our business network, but also cultivating a fertile ground for young minds to grow, innovate, and lead.”

IERCC’s partnership with AmCham Peru is a forward-thinking move, indicative of its commitment to nurturing a global business community that supports both immediate business interests and long-term developmental goals. This collaboration is set to be a beacon of innovation, growth, and shared success, benefiting businesses and young leaders in both the United States and Peru.

As the Inland Empire business community looks on, the IERCC and AmCham Peru collaboration promises to usher in a new era of international business cooperation, bridging continents and cultures for mutual prosperity.

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