By Frank Alvarez
RED BANK – The name ‘David Tarver’ is a familiar one in Red Bank.
From his involvement with the Red Bank Education and Development Initiative (RBEDI), to his service as president of the Count Basie Learning Center Board of Trustees, Tarver has been a strong advocate for improving the public education system and increasing opportunities for Red Bank children to succeed.
His commitment to that cause was built upon the success that Tarver himself achieved with decades of hard work and determination. Before becoming involved in his community,Tarver spent twelve years developing Telecom Analysis Systems (TAS), a company that he and his co-founders eventually sold for millions of dollars.
That achievement gave Tarver time – time he chose to invest in his community and to look back on the many roads he has traveled.
In his new book, Proving Ground, Tarver relates the story of his success.
A keenly inspiring read, Proving Ground starts the reader in Flint, Michigan, where a young David Tarver is losing annual science fairs. It wasn’t until he took a judge’s advice to heart and applied the scientific method to his projects that Tarver began to succeed.
What he learned in Flint became the foundation for his professional life, and he uses that experience to illustrate how the kid from Flint made himself into an international businessman.
The scientific method also played a role in his decision to go into business for himself.
The initial hypothesis was based on his belief that it was “possible for three young black men to create and run a successful high-tech company,” Tarver said.
Tarver had a clear view of his aims, and Proving Ground tracks the struggles and successes he experienced right up to the moment when he was able to confirm his hypothesis.
With an education in electrical engineering, David moved to New Jersey to work for Bell Laboratories in 1976, at a time when it was at the pinnacle of technological development.
It was there that he began to develop the ideas that would lead to the creation of Telecom Analysis Systems. For twelve years, Tarver and TAS co-founders Charles Simmons and Steve Moore, built TAS up, transforming it from a small operation headquartered in Tarver’s basement into a multi-million dollar company.
Tarver’s tone is casual and endearing as he walks the reader through the risks associated with leaving one’s job to pursue a long-held dream, but the details of the story are striking. A truly self-made man, David Tarver’s story shows exactly what it takes to achieve success.
It was his belief that success is possible that led to David’s various charitable endeavors in Red Bank. After selling TAS to Bowthorpe PLC, he began to apply the scientific method to the problem of education in Red Bank and developed a new hypothesis: “If all segments of the Red Bank community work together to devise and execute a plan to address the academic, social, and cultural needs of Red Bank children, academic results will improve.”
Tarver reached out to parents, teachers, community members, social service agencies and school administrators in an effort to build the connections necessary to improve the school system.
In September of 2001, Tarver and the group he called the Red Bank Education and Development Initiative held the first meeting in the organization’s history at the Molly Pitcher Inn.
By 2004, the RBEDI had helped to increase the percentage of students who passed the New Jersey eighth grade performance assessment from twenty five to sixty percent.
The improvements that came about in Red Bank were due to the efforts of a number of dedicated educators and community members, Tarver stressed.
.“ I take credit for bringing the community together and for being a catalyst,” Tarver says. “(But) the credit for academic improvement should go to the administrators, teachers, parents, and above all, students, who achieved the results.”
While he still visits Red Bank,Tarver returned to his home state of Michigan a few years ago.In a recent interview in Red Bank, Tarver discussed some of the struggles facing children in Red Bank. Speaking of his early days of involvement with the local YMCA, he noted that there were few African American children enrolled in classes and activities at the Y.
Tarver, who says he grew up in the “Golden Age of Flint,” with many activities and opportunities available to him, said he wanted to ensure that African American children in Red Bank have access to programs and activities that he enjoyed despite any challenging circumstances they may experience.
“It’s not easy when you have a kid who doesn’t have support.”
When asked for further insight into how Red Bank can help to continue the work that he began with the RBEDI, he noted that “one of the things parents need is a way to know what to do to support their kids. The people who are a support system for a kid need a support system.”
Tarver, who seems to always be on the lookout for an innovative solution, related a story about visiting Healdsburg, Ca. during a week in which local restaurants participated in a charity drive for schools, giving some of their proceeds back to the community.
It is this kind of initiative, Tarver believes, that Red Bank needs in order to help children achieve success.
And students, he said, can form their own hypothesis and discover where it leads – for example, “If you take a course, show up, behave, do your work, and be curious, what results can you achieve?”
The memoir, Proving Ground will be published in June and available at local bookstores and on the web.
A special, hardcover edition of the book may be ordered now from www.provinggroundbook.com and will ship in April.