Almost 200 Dallas Independent School District (DISD) students are taking part in an innovative program that prepares them to be the next generation of Dallas leaders. The students, members of the Brewer Foundation Future Leaders Program (FLP), were recently honored at Southern Methodist University.
During a special presentation on April 27 at SMU’s McFarlin Auditorium, FLP Recognition Ceremony keynote speaker and Emmy Award-winning CBS Dallas journalist Steve Pickett encouraged the “future leaders” to always stay committed to education – and to follow their dreams.
“It has to start with you believing in yourself,” said Pickett, who was the first local TV reporter to air a story about the FLP more than a decade ago.
The students, ages 10 – 18, take part in the FLP, an academic and leadership development program that lights a path to college for DISD students. Now in its 16th year, the FLP was founded by the Brewer Foundation in 2001 with only 20 students.
Since that time, the program has greatly expanded and become a national model for public-private partnership in education. The FLP is unlike any other taking place in education. It partners teachers and administrators from DISD with those from St. Mark’s School of Texas, The Hockaday School, Episcopal School of Dallas, and Greenhill School. This unique blend of talent and resources has allowed the program to earn praise from the Texas State Board of Education and the Texas Governor’s Office.
FLP classes are offered on Saturdays on the campuses of the program’s private school partners. Students attend classes that supplement their regular coursework. Core subjects include English, Technology, Mathematics, Computer Science, and Leadership. As the students advance through the program, they receive instruction to prepare them for college entrance exams. They also receive counseling on the college admissions process, financial aid, and future career choices.
“It is a privilege to be a part of this public-private partnership,” said William A. Brewer III, a founder of the FLP and chairman of its Advisory Board. “The collective efforts of many are proof that every student is capable of achieving great things.”
The 27 FLP Class of 2017 graduating high school seniors were also recognized at the ceremony. To date, this year’s graduates have earned more than $2.6 million in scholarship offers and received 153 college acceptance letters. To date, 142 FLP alumni have received more than $11 million in scholarship offers and 616 college acceptances.
The Class of 2017 graduating FLP students are Ronaldo Aguirre, Dayjuh Banks, Julie Castillo, Jazkira Combs, Jaime Contreras, Saul De Labra, Bryan Flores, Christian Garcia, Ricardo Garcia, Edith Gonzalez, Joseph Henry, Eric King, Lizbeth Loza, Britney Montes, Jonathan Murillo, Cinthya Posada, Alexis Ramirez, Erica Reed, Alberto Rios, Erielle Rose, Gabriela Ruiz, Mariam Aji Saine, Luther Tolliver, Arleen Valenciano, Karina Vega, Nakia Wells, and Kimberly Whittenburg.
Approximately 85 percent of all FLP participants are (or will be) first generation college students. The composition of the FLP is approximately 50 percent Latino and 50 percent African-American.
FLP alumni now attend colleges and universities such as The University of Texas at Austin, SMU, Colby College, Pomona College and Howard University, to name a few.