1989: Gathering management experience in luxury hotels such as L’ Ermitage, Mondrian, 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.

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.

Walk Through - 1994

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: $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:  Gary Wilson and his Wilson Thornhill foundationfurther solidify their commitment to Strive by issuing his fourth challenge in the amount of $300,000.  Challenge achieved by the end of 2013.

2013:  Formalized our academic collaboration with LAPD Officer John Coughlin and the non-profit organization he founded called Operation Progress, which provides K-College scholarships to local students.  This collaboration also includes the Caruso Family Foundation.

2014:  Partial funding is secured for a competition-caliber youth choir to begin in 2015.  2014 also marked the 10th anniversary of our magical Bass Lake/Yosemite summer trip.  We select 30 students who have earned it through the year to go on this exciting trip.

2015: Celebrating our 25th anniversary by adding programs and bringing in more students.  Adding personalized after hours and weekend tutoring, developing our youth choir, and expanding our bakery and kitchen as a revenue source. Now raising funds toward morning Pre-Kindergarten and ESL (English as a Second Language) classes for the parents of our students.

In celebration of our 25th year in 2015, we hosted an intimate evening performance by acclaimed pianist George Winston to bring together the many individuals, corporations and foundations that helped Strive reach this milestone year. See George playing at Strive here.

In July 2015,  trustees of the Windsong Trust visited Strive.  Just ten days later they confirmed grant support of $100,000 for the program.

2016: With help from The Ahmanson Foundation, Strive acquires the adjoining property.  The additional 3,300 square-foot space will allow us to take in more students from our wait list, expand the academic and support services we provide, while adding a garden and play area for our students.

2017: Our expansion endeavors continue! With the generous help from The Ahmanson Foundation, we were able to pay off our newly acquired property allowing us to return to a debt free state. 


2019: Closer and closer to expanding our little slice of heaven…for our kids and their families. Final details and construction date being smoothed out now. Much growth and progress on the horizon.