August 16, 2007

The Dallas Morning News Robert Miller Column: Gift Helps to Found School

By Robert Miller, The Dallas Morning News

Aug. 16--Uplift Education, a charter management organization, has gotten a $2.5 million gift from Todd A. and Abby Williams and their family foundation that will allow Uplift to establish Williams Preparatory as a STEM school.

STEM schools are designated by the Texas High School Project. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math, and the Texas High School Project is a $261 million public-private initiative that's committed to increasing graduation and college enrollment rates in every Texas community.

The project's goal is to ensure that all Texas students leave high school prepared for college and career success in the 21st century.

Texas High School Project partners include the Office of the Governor, Texas Education Agency, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the Wallace Foundation.

Williams Preparatory, at Harry Hines Boulevard and Regal Row in Northwest Dallas, opened July 30 and has more than 230 students enrolled for its first year in kindergarten and first, sixth and ninth grades.

Its student population is 95 percent Hispanic and 80 percent low-income. The campus will serve more than 1,200 K-12 students by 2012.

"Abby and I hold a strong belief that a child's future should not be determined by where they were born or who their parents are," said Mr. Williams, a partner and managing director for Goldman Sachs.

If children have the drive to better themselves, "it is our obligation as a society to give them that opportunity."

Mr. Williams is also fundraising chairman for Uplift Education board of trustees.

Uplift is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charter management organization that operates high-performance college-preparatory public charter schools.

Rosemary Perlmeter, Uplift's executive director, says the group provides quality education by raising and maintaining high expectations for students and staff.

Beside Williams Preparatory, the group also operates the North Hills School in Irving, Peak Preparatory in East Dallas, Summit International Preparatory in Arlington and Hampton Preparatory in Southwest Dallas.

Those schools have a total of 2,500 students and expect to enroll 6,000 by 2012.

"The generosity of Todd and Abby Williams is best described as passionate and highly focused on education. Uplift Education benefits not only from their generous monetary donations, but also from their personal compassion and volunteerism," Ms. Perlmeter said.

"Todd and Abby Williams are deeply committed to making a significant impact on education. Uplift and Williams Preparatory are equally committed to the children who walk through our doors each day with a heart full of hope and a mind eager to learn."

The school is administered by senior director Priscilla Parhms and school leader (headmaster) Mauricio Dominguez.

UT Southwestern Medical Center, which is nearby, Southern Methodist University and Austin College in Sherman have agreed to provide mentoring for the students.

For additional information, call 214-276-0352, Ext. 2022, write Uplift Education, 606 E. Royal Lane, Dallas, TX 75039 or visit www.uplifteducation .org.


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