Nonprofit Gifts $25K to Three School Systems

The Commit Partnership | Image by Fox 4 News

A local nonprofit awarded $25,000 each to three school systems for their teachers’ efforts to prepare lower-income students to thrive in the workforce.

The Commit Partnership (Commit) announced hefty gifts to reward the teachers of Dallas ISD, Garland ISD, and Uplift Education, a charter school network, for achieving significant career-readiness results among their lower-income students.

Each school system will be able to distribute the funds across as many or as few teachers as they see fit. For instance, five educators might receive a $5,000 bonus, or 25 could be gifted $1,000 each.

Commit sees the work done by these three award recipients as contributing to its overall mission to double the number of Dallas County residents between the ages of 24 and 34 earning a living wage by 2040. In 2020, just 1 in 4 within this age bracket were earning a living wage. It identified quality literacy programs and college- and career-readiness initiatives as being key to creating pathways for lower-income students to postsecondary opportunities and, thus, economic stability.

For instance, Dallas ISD’s Career Institute North (CIN) is one of three institutes offering students training programs in high-wage careers such as dentistry, cybersecurity, construction, welding, aviation, and more, as reported by The Dallas Express. More than 80% of Dallas ISD students are considered “economically disadvantaged,” according to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

“Students learning these types of systems will be valuable to industry,” said Calvery Aaron, who teaches industrial robotics at CIN, according to Fox 4 KDFW. He related how one engineering student recently earned a full-ride at the University of Miami and received a job offer from American Airlines as a tech-op.

Upon touring CIN, Commit’s chief of staff, Miguel Solis, remarked that it was “beyond [his] wildest imagination,” according to Fox 4. Solis, who previously served as a Dallas ISD school board trustee, explained how Commit’s reward will help incentivize such initiatives when public school districts grapple with considerable budget shortfalls.

“The past legislative session, there was about $4 billion that was left on the table of new education money that could have gone to help expand things like Career Institute North,” Solis said in reference to Texas lawmakers’ failure to pass a new education bill due to the fight over the universal provision of education savings accounts (ESA).

Despite polling suggesting that school choice is popular among Texas parents, opponents argue that ESAs would divert taxpayer money away from traditional public schools and exacerbate the struggles currently faced by many districts, as previously covered by The Dallas Express.

However, those in favor suggest that opening up school choice would drive struggling districts to provide more quality education to lure in students.

In 2021-2022, 86 Dallas ISD campuses earned a D or F rating for student achievement outcomes, for instance. According to the latest TEA accountability report. Only 41% of students scored at grade level on STAAR exams during the 2021-2022 school year, while the statewide average was 48%.

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