ThinkSelf’s mission is to offer resources, education & support to Minnesota Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing adults seeking full access to options for learning, safety, justice, employment skills, and community.
Our Board of Directors
Julie Olson Rand
Tracy Bell Slater
Project POWER → DREP → DEAF → CSD-Minnesota →
Our Beginnings & History
Educational services to deaf and hard of hearing individuals began through Project POWER in the Anoka-Hennepin School District. Classes were small with 6-8 students. The demand for classes steadily began to grow.
Classes were offered through Minneapolis Community Education.
Class offerings were broadened to include deaf refugees through St. Paul Community Education in a program called Deaf Refugee Education Program (DREP).
Classes were also offered through the Learning Exchange, a part of SHAPE (now Metro South) in Bloomington. ThinkSelf, then known as the Deafness, Education & Advocacy Foundation (DEAF), became the fiscal agent for deaf instructional services with funding from the Minnesota Department of Education.
Classes were offered at the Hubbs Center.
Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. acquired DEAF and established an office in Minnesota to continue to provide Adult Basic Education programming. Around this time, the grassroots movement to support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault (DVSA) took hold and became an integral part of CSD Minnesota’s mission to provide quality advocacy services.
The Deaf Consortium was formalized between ThinkSelf and school districts creating one entry point for deaf and hard of hearing students, recruitment of qualified teachers, and centralization of testing administration, supervision of assessments, and specialized curriculum.
Deaf DVSA services were launched as a program of Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Justice Programs with the guidance of the DayOne Network out of Cornerstone Advocacy Service.
CSD Minnesota began the transition to ThinkSelf, a Minnesota-based non profit agency. With CSD’s full support, the process of establishing independence was fully underway, which included its own accounting systems, board of directors, and agency staff.
ThinkSelf was formally established on July 1 and the transition to a completely stand-alone Minnesota-based non-profit is now complete. All funding from various state agencies remained with ThinkSelf including grants from Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Justice Programs, and a sub-grantee of the US Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. This was the year the Minnesota State Arts Board supported our first arts venture to produce a theatre production exploring the dynamics of emotional and psychological abuse.
ThinkSelf offers culturally appropriate bilingual education programming and advocacy services to Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, and Hard of Hearing adults statewide with a main office in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.