Special to The Dallas Examiner

After8toEducate is the first-of-its-kind, public-private collaborative to support and provide essential services to unsheltered Dallas ISD high school students and other homeless youth ages 14 to 21. Founded by Texas businessman and philanthropist Jorge Baldor in May 2017, the organization launched in response to the growing number of homeless students in the Dallas Independent School District, currently estimated to be more than 3,500, and still increasing.

On July 12, the Rainwater Charitable Foundation awarded After8 a $500,000 grant in support of its mission to help homeless youth. The gift, the largest so far, will match dollar-for-dollar up to the half-million maximum commitment. These funds will be raised during the designated period, which is now through Nov. 30.

On Monday, two local foundations made major, initial grants in support of After8toEducate’s mission to assist Dallas-area unsheltered students by opening a drop-in/residential center. The grants from the Hoblitzelle Foundation and the Kozmetsky Family Foundation jump-start After8’s drive to raise the $500,000 by the Nov. 30 deadline for the matching fund drive.

The Hoblitzelle Foundation awarded After8 the first of a two-installment grant totaling $200,000. This contribution will support renovation of a vacant Dallas ISD school building as a 24/7 resource facility for homeless youth.

On the heels of that news, the Kozmetsky Family Foundation made a commitment of $150,000. Those funds will support the staffing salaries of this groundbreaking organization.

Both gifts qualify for the matching fund drive, which will match dollar-for-dollar up to a half-million maximum, funds raised by After8 between now and the deadline. That means any support for the center from public or private dollars will have double the impact during this drive.

The investments and drive are a major jumpstart for After8toEdcuate. The organization is managing this collaborative with partners, Dallas ISD and two prominent local nonprofits, Promise House and CitySquare.

“We are excited, honored and grateful for the support and confidence in our work by the Hoblitzelle and Kozmetsky Family Foundations,” said Hillary Evans, After8toEducate’s executive director. “We applaud and appreciate their investment in Dallas youth. Their commitments will positively impact many students and we’re hopeful more investors will follow their lead.”

As part of the Kozmetsky Family Foundation support, After8 has funding for a new site manager position that will provide on-site management at the new facility opening later this fall.

With a looming deadline to raise the funds, After8 began community outreach for the matching fund campaign immediately. The nonprofit is accepting individual donations now, at http://www.after8toeducate.com, and looking to secure additional funds to assist the vulnerable student population.

“Every contribution, no matter the size, helps this worthy cause, and during this limited, matching grant period, you can effectively have twice the powerful impact,” Evans said.

With the momentum of these grants, After8toEducate is more than halfway to meeting its match fund goal. Community resources will help the organization reach the finish line.

Last year, After8toEducate received unanimous support from the Dallas ISD school board to repurpose the former Fannie C. Harris Elementary School, an abandoned school building in South Dallas as the center for these services.

This facility, being renovated and opening in phases, will initially provide immediate assistance to homeless youth ages 14 through 21 through a drop-in center slated to begin operating this fall. Planned services will range from personal development assistance, such as academic tutoring and job training, to offering basic daily life needs, such as a place to shower and eat.

In spring 2019, the facility will operate 24/7, opening the shelter component that will provide shelter and social services to Dallas ISD unsheltered high school students. The after-hours aspect is needed since most social service providers close their doors after regular business hours, leaving thousands of youth without a place to go after 8 p.m.

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