Tim Krueger had just left Trewyn Primary School on the south side of Peoria, Illinois, on a dreary Friday afternoon in February 2012, after working with students through ELITE. A former prison guard at the U.S. Leavenworth Penitentiary, Carl Cannon, started ELITE to teach at-risk kids behavior-change skills to stay out of gangs. Tim was one of his volunteer instructors for the past five years.
It was at Tim's real job as Chief Financial Officer for Maui Jim sunglasses, where he passed by Maui Jim's hangar. It was stocked with two corporate jets inside just a few miles from Trewyn, a grade school that felt and looked like a prison. Such juxtaposition truly displayed the unfairness of this world. How can people grow up so close geographically, yet worlds apart in opportunity?
A few months later, Tim announced he was retiring from Maui Jim and starting Thrive, a B Corp. focused on running businesses that would employ people who hit rock bottom and wanted to change for an opportunity at a better life. Tim started this in the center of the poorest area of Peoria, in a former grade school that had closed many years ago.
Although Thrive did not succeed as Tim had planned, it did lead him to San Francisco in 2013 to a Social Impact Conference. There, a few attendees heard of Tim's plans and mentioned that if that is what he wanted to do, Delancey Street Foundation on the Bay had been doing behavior change very successfully for over 40 years with the toughest population: former convicts and drug addicts. Here, Tim was able to experience their four-star restaurant and attend a tour of the 350 person residential academy. It was after this day, Tim promised himself, to never stop until he was able to open Harvest Academy, using the same Therapeutic principles that helped graduate over 26,000 students.
Harvest Academy took its first students in early 2021, who committed to two years to give them the opportunity to change their life. In 2023, we run at or near capacity, while on our way to 80+ students in the years to come.