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Each of the 20 senior girls at Dallas Can Academies’ Oak Cliff campus received an unforgettable experience donated by local makeup artists, hair stylists, photographers and more with makeovers for their senior prom.  Each girl had her hair styled, makeup applied and keepsake photographs made from noon to 4 p.m. on the day of their high school prom. Each student also got to choose from a selection of donated jewelry to match her dress and wear to the dance.  

Approximately 35 volunteers arrived at the school the day of the senior dance to offer each graduating senior girl a full makeover and pre-prom pampering experience.  Refreshments and music were served to add to the festivities and allowed the students to relax and soak in the experience with their classmates and friends. After their makeovers, the girls returned home to change into their prom dresses before their big night at Gilley’s Dallas.    

Nonprofit group, Fit and Faithful Living sponsored the event. Along with their committee members, Fit and Faithful Living offered to gather professionals to create a day of glamour and fun for the soon-to-be high school graduates after LaChanda Dupard, executive director of Fit and Faithful Living, recently met one of the senior girls and learned of the need for some pre-prom pampering for the girls attending the senior dance.  Senior student Ta’Liyah Edwards met Dupard at a recent school fundraiser and described her dream to one day own a salon.  Ms. Edwards also explained that most of her classmates couldn’t afford to get their hair and makeup done before their prom. 

When Dupard heard this she knew she had to do something to provide these young women the opportunity to go to their prom being proud of how they looked. Offering the chance to provide professional primping aligns with her nonprofit’s mission to provide healthy mental balance in individual lives. Local celebrity makeup artist Bridgett LaDawn and a team of volunteers from GlamourRX, Inc. quickly volunteered to provide the day of glamour for the girls.      

"Fit and Faithful Living's mission is to provide healthy mental balance in individual lives, this includes boosting confidence,” said LaChanda Dupard.  “The reason we agreed to assist these young women is to promote a spirit of confidence and exposure to professionals that will encourage them!  I'm sure this experience will also inspire Ta'Liyah to follow her dream of becoming a salon owner!"                                 

Most of the girls have fought obstacles to overcome barriers to earn their high school diplomas and these volunteers wanted to offer them a day of pampering and beauty to boost their confidence for their special dance.

Dallas Can students often require support beyond their classroom and this generous “day of beauty” created lasting memories for their special night. Fit and Faithful Living believes in providing opportunities of change for women and girls to see themselves in a new light. 

For more information about Texans Can Academies, please visit or

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Students from Dallas and Fort Worth Can Academy schools attended the three-day Earth Day Texas celebration at Fair Park over the national Earth Day weekend.  It was the culmination of an environmentally themed science fair week held at all Dallas and Fort Worth Can campuses. They brought a sample of the science fair projects from nine schools across Texas to display and explain the experiments to visitors that stopped by their table. 

An environmental quiz and do-it-yourself terrariums were also part of the charter high school’s booth at Earth Day Texas.  Guests were asked questions such as “How do you know whether an item can be recycled or not?” and “What are some ways that large cities can lower air pollution?”  Correct answers were rewarded with small prizes and the students and teachers were happy to see most people knew the answers. 

Making terrariums from recyclable plastic two liter bottles, juice containers and plastic cups was a very popular activity for those attending the outdoor festival. Students helped those who wanted to make their own terrarium fill their containers with soil, plants and rocks and then attach twine or ribbon to them so that they can be hung outside.  While making the plant containers, principles of botany, water cycle, evaporation and photosynthesis were explained.

“We had an awesome opportunity as a science team to showcase some of our students’ environmental projects at Earth Day Texas this year,” said Denikwa Denson, Dallas Can Academy instructional specialist.   “Our students were especially excited about their experience with the younger elementary students that stopped by the booth. We hope to continue to expose our students to ways that they can make Earth a better place to live.”

During the three-day event the students taught people who visited their exhibit how easy it is to make green choices in everyday living.  The science fair exhibits made by their classmates proved hypothesis demonstrating that taking care of our environment also takes care of us by saving money, improving our health and safety. 

Texans Can Academies are a unique network of 11 charter schools located in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.  The schools are tuition-free, open enrollment, public high schools of choice serving students who have struggled in a traditional high school setting. To date, more than 115,000 youth have been given a second chance at life with the opportunity to pursue their dreams by attending their schools. For more information, visit:


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Dallas Can Academies, a nonprofit charter high school organization serving at-risk youth, recently honored businesswoman and mother Natalie Jenkins Sorrell at their 22nd Annual Motherhood: Lifetime Achievement Award Luncheon held at The Renaissance Dallas Hotel. The luncheon recognizes women who are active community volunteers and champions of children and benefits Dallas Can Academies. Gloria Campos served as Mistress of Ceremonies, and Dallas ISD Trustee Lew Blackburn gave the invocation.

Rhetta Bowers from State Representative Toni Rose’s office presented Sorrell with a Resolution from the Texas House of Representatives in honor of her commitment to education, family, and community. Sorrell, the Director of Investments for the Employees’ Retirement Fund (ERF) of the City of Dallas, spoke of the necessity that mothers have a strong network surrounding them. "It takes a village to raise a child and a mother,” said Sorrell. “Mothers also need help and support in their most important job." 

High School Senior Ta’Liyah Edwards entertained guests with her heartfelt speech of overcoming adversity and excelling academically when a teacher believed in her. Nino Chavez graduated from Dallas Can Academies in 2014 and spoke of his continued volunteer efforts with the school and his ambitions of attending culinary school.

President and CEO of Texans Can Academies, Richard Marquez, concluded the luncheon with the surprise announcement that the newest Dallas Can Early Childhood Development Center, scheduled to open in September 2015, will be named in honor of Gloria Campos.

The proceeds from the annual fundraiser support more than 2,000 students working to earn their high school diplomas at the five Dallas Can high schools. The nonprofit believes helping these students receive a strong education is critical to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty and illiteracy. The charter schools are tuition-free, open enrollment, public high schools of choice and are part of Texans Can Academies, which has eleven high schools across the state.  Since 1987, more than 14,700 students have graduated from Texans Can Academies.


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“I’m lovin’ it,” the famous slogan from McDonald’s is exactly how a Dallas Can employee feels about the man behind McDonald’s, Ronald himself. Bessye Adams, director of financial operations at Texans Can Academies, recently celebrated her birthday volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas. Accompanied by eight of her fellow financial department members, Bessye and her co-workers cooked and served lunch for about 50 people to celebrate her special day.

Ronald McDonald House of Dallas (RMHD) is the only nonprofit organization that provides a temporary home-away-from-home for families whose children are receiving treatment for a serious illness or injury at a Dallas area hospital. In an effort to lessen the burden, reduce stress, keep the family intact, and enhance the quality of life for these families, RMHD provides temporary housing in a caring home-like atmosphere.  Bessye feels a strong connection with families whose children are hospitalized. 

When asked how it was to spend her afternoon at RMHD, Bessye simply responded, “I was honored to serve them, grateful for having a supportive boss and compassionate coworkers, and especially blessed to work for an organization that believes in helping children.”

Just like the Ronald McDonald House program, Bessye believes that nothing else should matter when a family is focused on healing their child.  They shouldn’t need to also worry about where they can afford to stay, where and when they will have their next meal, or where they will lay their head at night to rest.

Bessye was introduced to RMHD through her daughter, who has been on the organization’s teen team for the past two years. During her birthday afternoon, Bessye and her friends spent almost four hours prepping, cooking, and serving meals to the families who were living there. They were then given a tour of the facilities and had the opportunity to meet one of the international families staying at the home, whose child was having a lung transplant.

Bessye and several of her co-workers in the Texans Can Academies finance department thought it was the best birthday celebration they have ever attended.  Plans are being made for other volunteer opportunities with their department. 

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Galveston College Culinary Arts students will soon be getting their sea legs. In a partnership between the college and Sea Scout Base Galveston (SSBG), the state-of-the-art marine and maritime education destination on Galveston Island, culinary students will complete a portion of their course work by performing catering duties such as assisting in the cooking and preparing of meals, as well as serving, setting up and cleaning up at events held at SSBG.

SSBG, on Offatt's Bayou, features a number of indoor and outdoor facilities capable of hosting weddings, business conferences, community luncheons and similar events. Galveston College Culinary Arts students, under the direction of their instructors, will work alongside SSBG’s food service operators. 

“We are delighted to provide Galveston College students a unique classroom environment,” said Executive Director Ed Carrette. “Our mission at Sea Scout Base Galveston is to offer educational opportunities for individuals to learn through challenging, rewarding, hands-on experiences. This partnership offers real-world experience that will prepare the next generation to succeed in the maritime and hospitality industries that are key components in Galveston’s economy."

“The partnership that has been established with SSBG is an invaluable opportunity for Galveston College culinary students,” added Myles Shelton, President of Galveston College.  “By practicing and honing their skills in a state-of-the-art facility, our students have the opportunity to prepare for careers in the culinary and hospitality industry.”

For more information about Sea Scout Base Galveston please call 409.572.2560 or visit  For more information about Galveston College, please visit

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Avery Johnson, ESPN sportscaster, former NBA player (nicknamed the “Little General” while playing point guard for the San Antonio Spurs) and Dallas Mavericks head coach, along with nationally known youth professional speaker, Gabe Salazar, will be in the offices of nonprofit organization, Just Say YES (Youth Equipped to Succeed), to sign autographs, pose for photos and meet the public during North Texas Giving Day, September 18.    

Coach Johnson will be in the nonprofit’s office, located at 1819 Firman Drive, Richardson, Texas, to greet the public, sign autographs and pose for photos from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.    While he is there, Easy Slider’s food truck will be on hand during the lunch hour offering food to those who stop by.

Gabe Salazar will join Just Say YES’ high school STARS Mentors for free pizza and an ice cream truck from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Through the mentoring program, students who are on the track of dropping out are “matched” with sophomores, juniors and seniors to mentor them through the tough choices they will face during their high school years.  The Mentor teens will have an afternoon to talk with Salazar and be thanked by members of the Just Say YES organization for their important role in modeling healthy relationships, positive communication, safe dating, refusal skills, and more to other teens.

 Coach Johnson’s very personal story of overcoming many obstacles while growing up in the projects of New Orleans as the son of parents without high school educations and his subsequent professional sports success always captures the attention of high school youth.  Also an inspiring speaker and part of Just Say YES’ programming, Gabe Salazar speaks to youth of overcoming his obstacles of homelessness, hopelessness and gang influence to become the first in his family to go to college.  His message challenges teenagers and encourages them to make positive choices in their lives.

Coach Johnson and Gabe Salazar want to encourage the public to learn more about Just Say YES and their programs educating students through student assembly speakers and classroom curriculum.  The goal is to help teens say YES to their dreams and goals and no to destructive choices.  Just Say YES programs are customized for the specific needs of the individual school/organization and have been conducted in 38 states, reaching more than 500,000 students, parents and educators.

Gifts on North Texas Giving Day will help the nonprofit continue the STARS Peer-to-Peer Mentoring and other school programs, which are helping many at-risk students.  For more information please visit or

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High school debate teams from five countries recently participated in a World Schools debate-format tournament at Old Parkland. Twelve teams from Australia, Canada, England, Mexico and the United States competed in six rounds in the second annual Old Parkland Debate Tournament.  Team England finished in first place defeating Team Australia in the championship round. 

Two Dallas teams, Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet School and The Greenhill School, joined other high school debate delegations from California, Iowa, Louisiana, New York and two other Texas teams participating in the two-day six-round tournament.  The tournament topics ranged from human rights to income disparities and natural resources.  The final round debate topic was “When in conflict, the protection of global human rights ought to be valued above the respect of national sovereignty.” Judging the final round were Dallas attorney Kim Askew, State Representative Dan Branch and Civil District Court Judge Craig Smith.

Nonprofit organization, Old Parkland Debate Tournament, sponsored the tournament and the teams’ travel and expenses to offer experienced and winning debaters the opportunity to explore contemporary and relevant world issues on the grounds of one of Dallas’ most historic venues.  The nonprofit was formed to extend Old Parkland’s educational mission through the age-old debate format of a discussion of questions of public interest. 

The final round debate took place after lunch was served to all participants and guests in the Pecan Room in the restored Nurses Quarters building.  With its 25-foot ceilings and massive fireplace, the Pecan Room houses a unique array of historic collectibles, including wooden floor planks signed by United States Presidents, Supreme Court Justices and other visiting dignitaries. 

The World Schools style debate utilizes two three-person squads with one arguing that the determined topic is true and the other presenting the opposition.  The tournament’s dynamic format combined “prepared” and “impromptu” topics. The impromptu topics were given to the students one hour prior to the debate testing true “thinking on your feet” and spontaneous presentation skills.

Encouraging youth from around the world to examine contemporary issues affecting today’s world as well as their future ties to Old Parkland’s mission to be a vibrant campus analyzing and exploring topics to invoke conversation and offer solutions. 

“Engaging the world’s youth in discussions of concern for all humanity offers a spark of inspiration to all of us,” said Harlan Crow, chairman and CEO of Crow Holdings.  “Listening to these students present their ideas and arguments is really entertaining.  They truly added to our atmosphere of continued learning here at Old Parkland.”

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Just Say YES, a nonprofit organization helping equip teens to succeed by educating them through youth speakers and classroom curriculum, is hosting their annual Just Say YES Pointing Youth in the Right Direction Luncheon on Tuesday, April 8 at 11:30 a.m. The luncheon will be held in the Preston Hollow home of Lisa and Kenny Troutt with Chef Richard Chamberlain catering the event.  The proceeds from the fundraiser support the nonprofit’s goal to provide resources that empower students to say YES to their dreams and goals and no to destructive choices.

Each year the luncheon speaker addresses the audience as they would in an assembly given to a group of high school students through Just Say YES programs. This year, nationally known professional youth speaker, Gabe Salazar, will give his presentation titled “Dream Big” to luncheon guests. Salazar shares his story of overcoming obstacles of homelessness, hopelessness and gang influence to become the first in his family to go to college.  His message challenges teenagers and encourages them to make positive choices in their lives.

Luncheon chair is Coach Avery Johnson and luncheon honorary co-chairs are Tavia and Clark Hunt.  Luncheon sponsors include Kay Miller, Ellen and Paul Flowers, Amy Simmons and Marti and David Dunton.

Sue Gragg Precious Jewels has generously donated an 18kt yellow gold and diamond necklace valued at $3,950 for a raffle.  Tickets may be bought now through the day of the luncheon and the winner does not have to be present at the luncheon to win.

Just Say YES began as an educational nonprofit organization in March 2002. Their mission is to partner with schools to provide the right speakers, media and curriculum to help students succeed academically and through making positive decisions that will improve their success inside and outside of the classroom.

After 22 years with two Fortune 500 companies, Dan Bailey, President of Just Say YES, resigned and dedicated his life to helping youth make healthy choices as they avoid destructive behaviors. During the luncheon, Bailey will update current and future partners about the trajectory of the organization and new developments from the past year. He also highlights programs and speakers that have seen particular success in schools districts.

What:               Just Say YES Pointing Youth in the Right Direction Luncheon

When:              Tuesday, April 8, 2014

                        11:30 a.m.

Where:             Home of Lisa and Kenny Troutt

                        10595 Strait Lane

                        Dallas, TX  75229

Cost:                Sponsorships and tickets are available

                        Individual tickets are $100; Sponsorships begin at $1,250


The public is invited to attend the luncheon. Tickets and sponsorships are available by contacting or 972-437-0002 or by visiting