Amid Crisis, DRC Members Identify New Engagement Opportunities with Dallas ISD

Michael Wood, Manager, Education & Workforce

The North Texas business community has always been a strong champion of public education.

This is no different in times of crisis as Dallas Regional Chamber member companies demonstrate the business community’s enduring commitment to Dallas’ public schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants in the DRC’s 2019 Principal for a Day, an annual program that gives community leaders the opportunity to serve as an honorary principal at Dallas ISD schools, gather for the post-event reception.
As the crisis escalated, forcing remote operations for companies and the closure of public schools for the remainder of the academic year, it would have been easy – perhaps understandable – for Dallas ISD’s industry partners to temporarily suspend their engagement with the district. Instead, Accenture, IBM, Istation, Microsoft, and PwC, among others, found new ways to support Dallas ISD and its students.


Accenture, an industry partner at Seagoville High School, conducted virtual mock interviews with high school students on April 17 to prepare them for college or the job market. Students sent resumes, dressed for a traditional interview, and received feedback from Accenture volunteers.

IBM, an industry partner at Adamson High School, donated $10,000 to the Dallas Education Foundation to help the school address needs stemming from the crisis. In addition, IBM filmed motivational videos to encourage students and offered free access to its Open P-TECH platform to provide STEM-based learning opportunities during closures.

Istation, an e-learning developer based in Dallas, created a virtual work-based learning project for students in Bryan Adams High School’s Education Pathway. The students, who are interested in a career in teaching, were charged with conducting research on e-learning tools and resources. Students then presented their findings and recommendations to Istation.

PwC, an industry partner at Madison High School, conducted four financial literacy sessions for students on April 23. The sessions were driven by a pre-assessment sent to students to determine which topics would be most helpful based on existing knowledge.

Microsoft, a partner at South Oak Cliff High School, offered a day-long virtual session of its YouthSpark program on April 8 to connect 100 Dallas ISD students with STEM and technology content.

“Dallas ISD is fortunate to have a number of partners and volunteers who have continued to support students, families, and staff throughout everything — the tornadoes, and now COVID-19,” said Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa. “A supportive business community is essential to the success of any school district, and our partners have been truly remarkable this entire year. The district owes them a great deal of gratitude.”

Other companies have elected to provide financial assistance to Dallas ISD’s nonprofit philanthropic partner, the Dallas Education Foundation (DEF). DEF, in the wake of COVID-19, has launched its “Access to Technology and Virtual Education Campaign” to enable distance learning and virtual education for all Dallas ISD students. Various DRC member companies have made donations to the campaign, offering vital financial support despite tightening budgets.

“Dallas ISD has done an incredible job moving our students forward through these challenging circumstances,” said DEF Executive Director Mita Havlick. “And the business community continues to be directly engaged in supporting the district.”

With the support of its business and philanthropic partners, DEF was able to provide internet hotspots to more than 5,000 homes as well as fund the development of a virtual classroom environment for Dallas ISD’s P-TECH students.

DEF corporate donors during the crisis include Crown Castle, Dallas Mavericks Foundation, Huawei Technology, IBM, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP, PNC Bank, Santander Consumer USA Foundation, and Texas Instruments Foundation.