Randy Barth, founder and CEO, Think Together.
PHOTOGRAPH AND VIDEO BY ETHAN KAMINKSKY PRODUCTIONS
A 1994 gang shooting in Costa Mesa’s Shalimar neighborhood changed Randy Barth’s future forever.
“The kids there were trapped,” Barth explains. “Parents came to us and said, ‘What we need is a safe, quiet place for kids to study, get help with their homework, and do some activities.’”
So Barth, a Newport Beach stockbroker with a degree from UCLA, assembled a group of volunteers and launched an after-school tutoring program that grew into the nonprofit organization Think Together. “From that one neighborhood, we’ve sent over 450 kids to college,” he says. “We’ve had kids go to Harvard. We’ve got a medical doctor. We’ve had architects and engineers.”
Now, Think Together operates in 600 schools statewide, impacting 200,000 underserved students in low-income communities with afterschool, summer, early childhood programs, along with professional development for teachers and administrators.
Barth and his wife often visited friends and family in the Coachella Valley and “fell in love” with the desert, eventually purchasing a second home in 2016 in Indian Wells and turning his focus locally. During the pandemic, his group supported distance learning and meal distribution in the Palm Springs Unified School District, and he hopes to expand to the Desert Sands and Coachella Valley school districts.
“We’re putting down roots here,” he says. “Our plan is to get more closely knitted with the business community, partner with [the nonprofit] OneFuture Coachella Valley on workforce development, make sure the kids have the academic support they need, and then map to pathways to career or college for them — making sure that those maps fuse to the future jobs here in the valley.”
VIDEO: Randy Barth speaks on the impact of Think Together in the Coachella Valley.