Skip to main content

Education Matters

CFT's Educate Texas reimagines learning environments


Cedar Hill High School AP environmental science students Olivia Dyer and Nathan Theppharaj with teacher Holly Brookman

North Star Values: Education and Equity

In the United States, 65% of future jobs will require higher education, but only 39% of Texans have earned a college degree or workforce credential. To help prepare students for college and career pathways, Educate Texas’ Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs bring together state agencies and school districts to strengthen instruction and academics in K-12 schools and build relationships with industry experts.

As part of this work, Educate Texas selected Cedar Hill ISDDesoto ISD, and Lancaster ISD in March 2021 to participate in a renewed partnership to expand STEM educational programs and opportunities in southern Dallas County. This partnership, funded by Texas Instruments Foundation, builds on successes and learnings from the initial investment and partnership with Lancaster ISD in 2012 and Richardson ISD in 2018.

Educate Texas’ work to help transform Cedar Hill into a STEM district includes identifying new opportunities to embed STEM teaching, thinking, and problem-solving skills across the entire school district. As part of communitywide service events across North Texas for CFT4B’s Freedom Day in September, Educate Texas participated in Cedar Hill High School’s greenhouse restoration project. With the help of industry experts from TechScape, the once-vacant greenhouse was made into a community space to enrich student learning.

STEM-influenced interdisciplinary programming is not only positively impacting student outcomes and academic achievement, but also compelling students to think beyond their classrooms and extracurricular activities. “The main thing I like about the greenhouse is that we as students are empowered to take ownership of the work,” said Nathan Theppharaj, Cedar Hill High School 12th-grade student. “We get students who come in and plant what they want to plant. It feels less like a job and more like a fun activity for the school."

Cedar Hill ISD middle school scholars also had a career exploration day where they learned more about STEM-focused jobs. “We envision the greenhouse becoming a place where we can provide food for those in need, and create opportunities where scholars can apply learning from STEM-related courses,” Cedar Hill High School advanced placement environmental science teacher Holly Brookman said.

Ultimately, this work contributes to Educate Texas’ goal to reshape the teaching and learning of STEM subjects across all grade levels, to better prepare students from pre-K through 12th grade for higher education and workforce success.

This story was originally featured in our 2021 annual report. For additional details and content, click here.

Inspiring Giving From Generation to Generation

Inspiring Giving From Generation to Generation

The Fallen Family Fund at CFT supports Freedom Day


“It’s been the greatest gift,” said Nancy. “I feel like what granddad gave us was an opportunity – an opportunity to make a difference and to explore within ourselves something he had already figured out: lifting up the people around you is what matters most. He knew that the fund could bring good to others but also to us as we practiced generosity together.”

Spurring Social Innovation

Spurring Social Innovation

Across Public Safety, Education & Health Through CFT's Caruth Fund


“Our new approach to Caruth grantmaking seeks to increase access for organizations of different sizes, both within and across our priority issue areas of education, health, and public safety, and their intersections,” said Nadine Dechausay, Community Philanthropy Director. “We’re providing funding not only to projects that are fully implemented or expanding, but also to projects in initial development that we believe will be transformational for our community.”

Raising the Bar of Generosity

Raising the Bar of Generosity

CFT's North Texas Giving Day Rallies 100,000 People to Give Back


In 2019, CFT’s North Texas Giving Day raised $50 million benefiting nearly 3,000 local nonprofits, bringing the eleven-year total to over $290 million for our community. North Texas Giving Day is the largest community-wide giving event in the nation and this year more than 169,000 gifts poured in from 50 states and 25 countries.

We're Furthering Family Values

We're Furthering Family Values

Involving our children in our charitable giving plans beyond our lifetime from the very beginning!


“GiveWisely gave us an opportunity to come together around giving. We learned a lot about our kids and their unique and overlapping passions by going through the values-based exercises. It was a great experience to bond us in ways we hadn’t thought of before, and have us focus as a family on causes we care about,” said Ann. “There are many worthy causes, so being able to focus and know what’s most important to us as a family and being able to align that with the charitable giving we do has been really meaningful.”

Investing In Our Neighbors

Investing In Our Neighbors

"CFT was the perfect avenue for us to dig deep to make a difference in Collin County."


“There has been tremendous economic opportunity, but it’s important that each of our neighbors has an opportunity to come along on Collin County’s journey of growth. There are a lot of challenges and quiet needs here that many people don’t see,” noted Brian.

We're Building Bridges to Opportunity

We're Building Bridges to Opportunity

Giving life-changing scholarships to students enrolled in Bishop Lynch High School and beyond.


“We’re giving good, solid kids who earn Bs and Cs a leg up with this scholarship. It’s not only life-changing for them, it’s life-changing for me in my involvement,” said son Michael. “Our role was just planting the seed in each recipient to show that we believe in their ability, and the students have done all the rest,” said Jackie.

Engaging Employees for Good

Engaging Employees for Good

We're growing employee engagement and volunteer programs one business at a time.


“We value the tremendous expertise of the CFT4B team in growing our program, sharing best practices and connecting us to opportunities we didn’t even know existed. In addition to providing custom volunteer projects, they helped us create an engaging volunteer fair and a nonprofit board leadership training program for employees...”

We're Spreading Good Cheer!

We're Spreading Good Cheer!

Phyllis Meyerson with CFT's Galen Smith & Geri Jacobs


"I love working with CFT because I know my funds will be going to the best places, where they can have the greatest impact, long after I'm there to hand out the funds myself." – Phyllis Meyerson

Uplifting the Underrepresented

Uplifting the Underrepresented

Ross & Rebecca were both largely inspired by their families, particularly their mothers, to give of our time, talent and treasure.


Ross and Rebecca Anthony are tremendously intentional about their charitable giving, and have partnered with CFT in a variety of ways to align their values with their personal giving strategies.

You can't take it with you!

You can't take it with you!

Ford Lacy and Cece Smith Plan Their Community Legacy


"YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU!" is the first thing Ford Lacy said when we asked what spurred him and his wife, Cece Smith, to plan in advance how they would give to charity through their wills.

Inspiring Students and Uplifting Educators

Inspiring Students and Uplifting Educators

Carter Creech creates lasting impact in his hometown through CFT


Since 2005, Carter Creech has partnered with CFT on his charitable giving as he’s looked to “think bigger,” leading by example to encourage others.

Learning to Heal

Learning to Heal

Simon Greenstone creates a scholarship fund for those impacted by cancer


“We’re so pleased to have CFT as our partners as we make a real difference in the lives of so many deserving kids” says Simon Greenstone, founding shareholder of the law firm Simon Greenstone Panatier.

Racing Toward a Cure

Racing Toward a Cure

Shelby family furthers pancreatic cancer treatment options


The Shelby Family has made meaningful investments in the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer by working with CFT staff and funding clinical trials through donor-advised funds at CFT.

Working Side by Side to Simplify a Donor's Life

Working Side by Side to Simplify a Donor's Life

Beverly Brown finds joy converting family foundation to CFT fund


Beverly Brown is a fifth-generation native Texan with a quick smile, who grew up in Farmers Branch. As a child, she would often accompany her mom to area charities where they volunteered to help others who were homeless or hungry. Those early lessons have fueled Beverly’s heart for giving back through active volunteerism, board leadership and donor support.

Sharing Values & Planning Your Legacy

Sharing Values & Planning Your Legacy

A conversation with Ray and Linda Pekowski


“We chose Communities Foundation of Texas as our legacy charity because we love the people there, their stewardship and the ease in working with their team.” - Linda and Ray Pekowski