By Catie George, Manager, Communication and Storytelling
The Dallas Thrives coalition hosted a partner meeting at the Dallas Regional Chamber’s (DRC) offices Tuesday, Sept. 26. Dallas Thrives is a coordinated effort to double the number of young adults earning a living wage in the Dallas Region by 2040.
“When you’re able to double the living wage attainment here in Dallas County, it would yield $4 billion of additional [gross domestic product] and over $40 million of additional sales tax,” said Brendan McGuire, Regional President at “Not to mention the additional outcomes, including reduced poverty, reduced dependence on entitlements, economic mobility, and increased overall resilience.”
Dallas Thrives is a joint initiative launched by the DRC and the Commit Partnership to collaborate with DRC member companies to identify pressing industry needs to inform educational offerings and workforce development programs.
“Total employment in this region is 10% greater than it was pre-pandemic. That is an amazing statistic that we should all be proud of,” said CEO and Chairman of the Commit Partnership Todd Williams. “Texas still has over 1 million job openings… We didn’t get here overnight. There’s no silver bullet in this work. It’s a series of steady efforts made by lots of people in this room to get there.”
Williams delivered the keynote presentation at the meeting, supported by PNC Bank. Williams’ presentation included several statistics demonstrating Dallas County’s progress in several key education and workforce benchmarks. Since 2012, the number of young adults in Dallas County who have an associate degree or higher has increased by 10%, the number of young adults in Dallas County experiencing poverty has declined from 18% to 12%, and living wage attainment among young adults in Dallas County has grown from 24% to 30%.
“We’re going to keep measuring these [outcomes] every year, but I also want to highlight that this is not just due to our own growth in our own pipeline. This is also due to the people in this room and others who moved here, who were educated elsewhere, to fill the jobs that we need,” said Williams.
McGuire also pointed out how important early education is for students in the long term. In 2014, Dallas leaders, school districts, and community organizations came together to increase pre-K enrollment. The effort increased enrollment by 250%.
“It’s neat to see the industry catch up to the importance of pre-K because when you intervene early, you can set that child up for positive outcomes throughout their academic journey and later in life,” said McGuire. “Certain studies would tell you that $1 invested in early education can yield $17 to $18 of lifetime return. So, it’s quite remarkable to see that Dallas in our region [see that return] right up front.”
Beyond early childhood education, Williams says it is important to create touchpoints throughout the entire educational pipeline for students to have the most career exposure possible to set them up for success.
“Kids need to understand what is available to them. We need to make sure that we are in front of them as early as middle school to help them understand their options,” said Williams. “We have to expose our kids to careers, and that means apprenticeships, internships, as much as possible.”
In high school, encouraging students to earn a credential in addition to their diploma is becoming increasingly relevant to career readiness.
“The credentialing, the certificates, that’s the way of the future. Tell me what you can do, tell me what skill you can bring to the workforce space,” said Lynn McBee, Workforce Czar at Workforce Dallas.
More students in Dallas are graduating with some type of credential or professional certification every year. However, Dallas ISD’s Chief of Strategic Initiatives Dr. Brian Lusk warned attendees not to overstate the statistics.
“We realize getting a student a credential is going to put them in a position to either continue on their schooling or continue on to a career, which is critically important,” said Lusk. “To talk about numbers is great, but when you talk about students and experiences, you can bring emotion to the table and change lives. It feels different.”
DRC Senior Vice President of Education & Workforce Jarrad Toussant shared his personal relationship with this coalition.
“Having grown up in Pleasant Grove, to have the opportunity to come back to my home city and to advance this work has been one of the most important things I’ve done in my career,” said Toussant.
The DRC , including PNC Bank, Amazon, United Way of Dallas, JPMorgan Chase, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Commit Partnership, and Bank of America. And thank you to the Dallas Thrives Steering Committee, the Commit Partnership, Child Poverty Action Lab, Dallas College, Dallas ISD, United Way of Dallas, UNT at Dallas, Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas, and Workforce Dallas.