Perez Ferguson will run the day-to-day operations of this focused, long-term, multi-dimensional effort. THRIVE will direct funding, knowledge, and attention toward preparing and readying Santa Barbara County students for productive lives.

THRIVE is supported by many collaborative partners, with initial seed funding provided by six major foundations in our region – Hutton-Parker Foundation, James S. Bower Foundation, Orfalea Foundations, Santa Barbara Foundation, The Wood-Claeyssens Foundation, and First 5 of Santa Barbara County. THRIVE is also supported by several generous community members and educators, with more than $4 million dollars contributed to date.

Anita Perez Ferguson

“This is one of the most important and far reaching philanthropic efforts ever undertaken in our community,” said Jon Cark, executive director of the James S. Bower Foundation and Santa Barbara Foundation trustee. “THRIVE is a data driven, long-term commitment that will, over time, unlock the potential of every child in this county. Anita is the perfect person to lead this critical initiative to prepare and ready the next generation of Santa Barbara County residents – to compete, provide for, and take care of their communities.”

Perez Ferguson recently completed her PhD in Organizational Systems at Fielding Graduate University and has held numerous community and national leadership roles in her professional career. A graduate of Westmont College, Dr. Perez Ferguson served as director of admissions of Westmont College, and director of student achievement at the DayStar University in Nairobi, Kenya. She was appointed the White House liaison to the U.S. Department of Transportation for President Bill Clinton and is the former chair of the Advisory Board of the Inter-American Foundation in Washington, D.C., where she remains actively involved. Dr. Perez Ferguson is a recognized leader in Latin American affairs and U.S. Latina achievement.

“The promise of our collective future in Santa Barbara is linked to strong neighborhoods whose residents are healthy, educated, empowered and inspired to take on the challenges of our times,” said Lois Mitchell, president of the Orfalea Foundations. “Those validated benchmark challenges are directly outlined on THRIVE’s pathway from birth into early adulthood.” Perez Ferguson will direct THRIVE’s work, which is built on partnerships and collaborations with families, schools, government, the business community, nonprofit and service organizations, foundations and other funders. THRIVE is working in several local communities to dramatically improve school readiness by providing integrated, case-managed services to families. Over time, THRIVE will employ strategies that address college readiness and completion.

To date, the most advanced models of the work done by this collaborative can be seen at the Carpinteria Children’s Project at the Main School and at strategic campuses on Santa Barbara’s Westside, including Harding University Partnership School. Three emerging projects in Guadalupe, Santa Maria, and Isla Vista are currently building their pre-implementation capacities.

This place based approach was pioneered by Geoffrey Canada, creator of the now famous and well-regarded Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City. Cradle-to-career efforts are taking place regionally around the U.S., often connected to Strive, a partnership which unites common providers around shared issues, goals, measurements and results, and then actively supports and strengthens strategies that work.

THRIVE has been established as a field of interest fund at the Santa Barbara Foundation, which enables other funders and individuals to participate. For more information, or to get involved, contact THRIVE Executive Director, Anita Perez Ferguson at or (805) 636-6530 or Santa Barbara Foundation Vice President of Philanthropic Services, Jan Campbell, at or (805) 963-1873. All correspondence can be sent to 1530 Chapala Street, Suite D, Santa Barbara, CA, 93101. To stay involved with THRIVE, visit


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