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CFT’s Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy Graduates, Awards $50,000 to Local Nonprofits

  • Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy,
  • Grant Awards,
  • grants,
  • nonprofits
CFT’s Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy Graduates, Awards $50,000 to Local Nonprofits

$50,000 in grants will benefit three nonprofits: Southern Dallas Link, Miles of Freedom, and At Last

DALLAS – May 2020 – Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) and its second cohort of young philanthropists, Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy (ELP), are thrilled to announce that $50,000 in grant funding will go to support three local nonprofits: Southern Dallas Link ($35,000), Miles of Freedom ($10,000), and At Last ($5,000).

65 young leaders graduated from the second cohort in May 2020 after completing their nine-month journey in the program.

“The $50,000 in grants from this year’s Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy cohort will have a significant impact in addressing the priority areas the group chose as their focus: economic opportunity, with an emphasis on financial education/coaching, job/skill training, and/or affordable housing; as well as education, with an emphasis on early childhood, parental/familial support, and community school models,” said Monica Egert Smith, chief relationship officer at Communities Foundation of Texas.

The $35,000 to Southern Dallas Link (SDL) helps to address the cohort’s priority funding area of economic opportunity by helping SDL to expand their fleet of vans and lower the cost for riders. SDL helps eliminate transportation barriers by linking individuals living in the southern sector of Dallas with access to reliable transportation – which is necessary to obtain and maintain living wage jobs.

The $10,000 to Miles of Freedom also addresses economic opportunity, as it supports Miles of Freedom’s workforce programming and efforts to equip, empower, and employ individuals returning home from prison and to provide support and assistance for families and communities impacted by incarceration.

The $5,000 to At Last! helps to address the cohort’s priority funding area of education by supporting At Last!’s after-school counseling program. At Last! works to provide scalable and pragmatic solutions that improve the educational outcomes of students living in poverty through their urban boarding school.

Applications Now Open for 2020-2021 Cohort

CFT’s Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy is a nine-month program with a mission to engage, educate and connect North Texas young leaders to take an active role in building thriving communities for all. The annual program launched in September 2018 and now annually accepts applications from young leaders age 25 to 40 that are interested in learning about strategic giving, grantmaking and philanthropy.

CFT’s 2020-2021 ELP program, which is scheduled to begin in September and run through June, is now accepting applications online here. Applications must be submitted online by June 30.

About the 2019-20 Graduating Cohort and their recent $50,000 in Grant Awards

The cohort of young leaders participated in nine months of education about, engagement with, and connecting to Dallas nonprofits to help strengthen the philanthropic impact of the next generation of leaders in North Texas.

“At Communities Foundation of Texas, we encourage young community leaders to join us in building thriving communities for all. We want to help foster a community of thoughtful, strategic, and collaborative individuals to actively redefine what philanthropy means to this next generation,” said CFT President and CEO David J. Scullin.

“This group of young philanthropists was tremendously dedicated, enthusiastic and engaged in grantmaking, especially as the program had to make an online pivot in recent months. We are committed to walking alongside the growing number of young professionals looking for opportunities to create positive change in their communities through their time, talent, and treasure,” said Scullin.

To lay the groundwork for the entire program, CFT’s economic security experts presented the Dallas Economic Opportunity assessment, a report commissioned by CFT that highlights key challenges and issues facing Dallas County. To further bolster the cohort’s grantmaking process, participants heard from a variety of community leaders and philanthropists at each session. Monthly meetings covered numerous relevant and engaging topics such as key community issues, ways to give and engage, board leadership and training, and grantmaking.

As part of their journey in philanthropy, participants had the opportunity to collectively grant $50,000 to area nonprofit(s) of their choosing. Through a guided exploration of community issues, the 2020 graduating cohort worked together to identify their priority issue areas, which they ultimately selected as Education, with an emphasis on early childhood, parental/familial support, and community school models; and Economic Opportunity, with an emphasis on financial education/coaching, job/skill training, and/or affordable housing. The group also chose a collective set of guiding values: effectiveness and sustainability with a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Six local nonprofits presented their organizations and funding needs to the ELP group. The cohort then held virtual site visits/Q&A sessions with the three organizations that were determined as best aligned with their funding priorities—At Last!, Miles of Freedom, and Southern Dallas Link – to decide which organizations would receive funding.

In six months, the three organizations will report back to Communities Foundation of Texas and the Emerging Leaders cohort on their grant use and impact.

Cohort Participant Feedback

“This has been a transformational experience! I found my tribe with my ELP cohort. I am inspired by the brilliance and innovation of these leaders and influencers that drive meaningful and impactful change through philanthropic efforts,” said participant Lacy Durham, senior manager, global employer services at Deloitte Tax LLP. “I’ve always had a giving spirit and service has been an integral part of my life. Still, through this experience, I am more excited and passionate about giving my time, talent, and treasure to impact the communities in which I live, work and play.”

“CFT’s ELP program is top notch. I learned so much and always left the meetings feeling empowered to make a change in the community. I am so impressed with the leadership and caliber of the people selected to be in the program. I loved seeing every person’s heart for the community shine through,” said Lauren Quam, relationship manager, corporate banking, Bank of Texas. “It was so well done, and I will be singing CFT praises to all of my friends and coworkers.”

“When it comes to using our gifts of talent, time or treasure, the options are abundant. What I loved about CFT’s ELP program is that it allowed me to clearly define my personal values and passions. This allows me to have a deeper connection in my giving experience,” shared cohort participant Juana Véliz, director of multicultural strategy at Givelify. “It also demasked the notion that you need a billion dollars to make an impact. We are all philanthropists and have the ability to change the world in our own way.”

“ELP was such a phenomenal experience. As we all prepare to rise in our respective careers, being philanthropically minded is something that this leadership program taught me to keep top of mind. We are the future leaders of North Texas and in order to see the Dallas we want, thoughtful engagement is a necessity,” noted participant Julian Mensah, development officer at Big Thought. “I highly recommend this program to people searching for ways to take a firm step to enhancing North Texas philanthropic landscape.”

“I so appreciate the CFT staff and this experience. Through ELP, I was able to dive into practical sessions that empowered me to learn more about myself, our communities’ needs, and to meet other professionals interested in doing the same,” said cohort participant Diana Kao, major gifts officer with the North Texas Food Bank. “I now have a better defined sense of how I can contribute my personal time, talents, and funds so that it’s meaningful for everyone involved – for me, and for the causes I want to help impact.”

View photos from the 2019-2020 cohort:



Learn more here.


Nicole Paquette
Nicole Paquette
Senior Director, Communications, Public Relations, and External Affairs

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