Couple Seeks To Help Bridge Education Disparities

A Preston Hollow couple helped get technology resources for Dallas ISD students in a big way this fall by matching gifts to Teach For America DFW up to $50,000.

“The first 100 days of school is always the most critical to get students the resources they need to succeed,” said Rea Foster, executive director of Teach For America DFW. “This year, that need is even more urgent. We hope that with Teach For America DFW’s new giving campaign and thanks to the generosity of Chris and Joe Popolo, we are able to enable our teachers to continue to guide their students through these unprecedented times.”

The Popolos have had a donor-advised fund at Communities Foundation since 2008 with giving focused on faith-based institutions, education, and organizations that promote opportunity regardless of race or socioeconomic class. 

“We are very concerned about the education disparity based on what zip code you’re born into, and we try to get involved in organizations that are working to provide excellent education to students no matter where they live.”

Chris Popolo

Teach For America finds, develops, and supports a network of people who commit at least two years of teaching in an under-resourced public school. 

Teach For America DFW has served more than 400,000 students and trained more than 1,700 teachers. The Popolos got involved when it launched here in 2009.

Chris Popolo and Teach For America founder Wendy Kopp both graduated from Highland Park High School in 1985.

“So we were so excited when they finally were able to break into the Dallas market and open up here in DISD, and I just think it’s the perfect model for serving low and middle-income children,” Chris said. “Even though the Teach for America teachers may only be a small percentage of the total teaching staff at the school, I think their influence permeates throughout the school and just from the way they address the students as scholars and setting an expectation that you can go to college and you can succeed in school.”

She also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had widened existing disparities in education. 

“The kids in private schools who have access to technology and good Wi-Fi are going to survive this virtual learning environment even though it’s not great even under those circumstances,” Chris said. “But when you have kids who don’t have great access to technology in the home, may not have great internet service, may have a lot of kids at home and distractions, working parents that may not be able to sit with them – those education gaps are just going to continue to widen.”

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at [email protected]

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