It’s been a wild year for the reborn Dallas Education Foundation. When it re-launched after dormancy in 2019, nobody could imagine that just a few weeks later, a tornado would immediately spur the organization into action quickly to help the Dallas ISD schools impacted by it.
Then the pandemic hit, schools closed, and inequities in access to everything from learning assistance to even the internet came roaring to the forefront.
“As a result of this pandemic, it has exposed that some of our kids don’t have access to the stuff that they need to be able to perform and compete academically,” said Dallas ISD superintendent Michael Hinojosa in September.
The foundation immediately stepped in, raising money and providing WiFi hot spots to families who did not have adequate internet access.
“Since October 2019, the foundation has donated over $1.5 million to Dallas ISD to address the needs of our students, teachers, and schools,” foundation executive director Mita Havlick said. “We are especially proud of our efficient operating model which results in nearly 98% of our donor dollars directly going to support our district.”
The foundation kicked off its annual campaign in November, with Dallas director of cultural affairs Jennifer Scripps chairing a committee that includes Young Women’s Preparatory Network CEO Lynn McBee, United to Learn CEO Abby Williams, and Mary Kay Global Public Affairs executive Theresa Flores.
McBee said that her involvement came because she truly believes that the district is doing good work.
“I think if there’s one thing that I would love for us to start having discussion around is people really need to understand how good this district is,” she said, adding that in pre-COVID days when cocktail parties were happening, it wasn’t uncommon to hear disparaging remarks about the district.
“I want to change that dialogue because we’re doing some really great things at all of our schools of choice, P-Tech, all the strong magnets, all of our schools – there is opportunity for kids to learn. It’s just an old narrative that we need to start changing. It’s just simply not true either.”
Although the foundation is currently working to put out the many metaphorical fires that have cropped up because of the pandemic, McBee said the board is really looking forward to a future where the fundraising also goes to innovation, to helping the district not so much compete with private schools, but to be able to offer the same kind of access to opportunities.
“We need a strong school system to have a strong city – it’s that simple,” McBee said. “And we do. We’re growing and getting stronger. And the Dallas Education Foundation is going to be there to support the district when they want to do something that is innovative and new.”
The Dallas Education Foundation’s 2020 Annual Campaign will end on Dec. 31. For details, go to FutureofDallas.org.