Developer and philanthropist Donald Bren on Tuesday reached beyond the Orange County communities he helped build and define, announcing an $8.5-million donation to benefit after-school programs in Santa Ana and east Los Angeles County.
The gift will bolster Santa Ana-based THINK Together, an after-school program that extends the school day for children who need extra coaching with classwork or homework help, often because their parents are working or lack English skills. The program provides an additional hour of schooling, homework assistance and physical education.
Bren, whose Irvine Co. and Donald Bren Foundation have contributed more than $200 million to public schools and universities, was motivated to choose THINK Together after a January speech by state Education Supt. Jack O'Connell challenged listeners to "imagine if every school had access to a successful business partner to provide mentors, materials and opportunities for students."
The donation is Bren's largest outside the boundaries of the old Irvine Ranch, which included Irvine, Newport Beach, Tustin, Orange, Laguna Beach and Anaheim, said John Christensen, Irvine Co. spokesman.