1989: Gathering management experience in luxury hotels such as L’ Ermitage, Mondrian, (under the
mentoring wing of legendary New York hotelier Klaus Ortlieb) Ritz Carlton, The Biltmore, Sunset Marquis Hotel & Villas and Marriott’s Rancho Las Palmas Resort, Jim Tetreau decided to put this invaluable experience into creating an exemplary facility for inner-city children in the Watts community of South LA.
While at Rancho Las Palmas in Rancho Mirage, California, Jim did volunteer work with kids at the Braille Institute of the Desert. Jim brought Stevie Wonder and Braille together for collaboration, but the idea was rejected by Braille. Frustrated with that effort falling apart, Jim decided to form his own non-profit for children with Don Anderson, Jr. and channel his connections, resources and energy into efforts he could better control.
1990-91: Strive was incorporated in Los Angeles with co-founder Don Anderson, Jr.
1992: Further understanding of the needs and challenges of the community were experienced during the violent Los Angeles riots that flamed the city.
1990-93: In an effort to better understand the needs and personality of the community, Jim volunteered at local non-profits during the first few years while organizing Strive, most notably at the Westminster Neighborhood Association under the direction of Dr. Grace Payne. A study of statistics relating to poverty rates, violence and gangs, test scores, graduation rates and ancillary issues relating to child welfare in Los Angeles brought us to the community we now serve, which is known as the Watts-Green Meadows area of South Los Angeles. In short, the stats led us to where the need is greatest.
1994-95: The first of two adjoining properties was donated to Strive by two separate owners, unknown to each other. The first property was donated by John Harrison, president of the Willamette Valley Company of Eugene, Oregon. Lacking funds, Don and Jim began demolishing portions of the property in advance of renovation funds, which were sure to come.
1995-97: Jim moved on-site and lived on the property due to the financial strains of the first five years organizing Strive. While managing a family friend’s restaurant during the evenings and weekends for most of the 90′s, Jim was able to work on Strive during the weekdays.
1997: The second of the two adjoining properties was donated by David Rips, president of Younger Optics in Torrance, California.
1997: Drug gang problems and repeat break-ins at Strive forced Jim out of the property. A walk-through of Strive was given to the local gang “shotcaller” to demonstrate there was nothing left to steal or vandalize, and therefore, no more reason to damage the property by breaking in. The word went out and no more damage was done at that time.
1999-2000: Charles Conn, co-founder and CEO of Citysearch sent an email challenge to friends and associates to help raise funds for the renovation of the first half of Strive. Among the responses were substantial grant-investments from Barry Diller and Karen Bristing. Karen issued a $75,000 challenge grant that enabled the renovation.
2000: Following the renovation, an infant and preschool are opened at Strive and operated by a collaborating non-profit. A small after-school program is operated within limited space until the remainder of the facility can be renovated. Jazz-ballet dance classes are provided to 50-60 kids every Saturday through November 2006.
2004-05: Gary Wilson issues a $125,000 challenge through his Wilson Thornhill Foundation. The purpose is to renovate the remaining studio portion of Strive and bring the total facility space available to operate programs for youth to more than 11,000 square feet. The $250,000 challenge is achieved and renovation begins in late 2005. Strive also received a $140,000 four-year grant commitment from the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
2006: The studio renovation is successfully completed in late 2006 on budget. Strive becomes debt-free by November 2006.
2006-07: Gary Wilson issues second challenge in the amount of $300,000 to provide operating funds for expanding programs to more kids.
2007: The $300,000 challenge grant is achieved; preschool vacates; fully renovated mini-campus of 11,000 square feet now available and in use by Strive programs.
2008: In order to maximize the educational impact we can have on our students, Strive’s board affirms the long-term goal of adding a private* middle school component to Strive. Separate funds will be raised to fund the school.
*Private refers to the school not receiving taxpayer funds to operate. It is still available to low-income, educationally ambitious children in this community.
- $100,000 grant from The Annenberg Foundation
- $35,000 grant from The Ahmanson Foundation to upgrade and improve portions of our mini-campus
2009: Gary Wilson issues third challenge in the amount of $250,000 to strengthen Strive’s efforts during economic uncertainities.
2010: Despite the added challenges of the economic uncertainties, we had the good fortune of successfully achieving the $250,000 challenge by May 2010 – less than 1 year from it being issued.
2010 marked the 20th anniversary of Strive’s founding.
2012: Having successfully ridden out the economic challenges of the last few years and adding
students without increasing our budget, Gary Wilson issues a $300,000 challenge to spur program
expansion and increase donor involvement.