January 23, 2014
DALLAS (SMU) – Four organizations that advocate for the education and well-being of at-risk children will be honored Thursday, Jan. 23, by SMU's Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. The East Dallas Community Schools, TexProtects, the Children's Defense Fund and Stand for Children will receive Luminary Awards at 6:30 p.m. in the Martha Proctor Mack Grand Ballroom in the Umphrey Lee Center.
“This year’s honorees exemplify the power of collaboration and will to create movements that champion children who are poor, neglected or abused,” says David J. Chard, Leon Simmons Endowed Dean of the Simmons School. “These children, like any other, deserve a healthy childhood and a good education; the recipients of the Luminary Award shine an important light on what we need to advance.”
For 35 years, the East Dallas Community Schools (EDCS) have documented the power of high-quality early childhood education, particularly education that starts young and involves the parents. Based on the Montessori education model, staff at the three EDCS campuses provide parents of 550 students with information, encouragement and support. The schools are located in high-risk Dallas areas and open to children ages nine or younger, regardless of income. Compared to Texas public schools, EDCS serves a higher percentage of children from low-income families and children whose native language is not English, yet 95 percent of EDCS students graduate from high school and 89 percent of those students go to college. School founder and director Terry Nelson Ford, a 1974 SMU graduate, will accept the Luminary Award for local excellence.
The Texas Association for the Protection of Children (TexProtects) was created in 2004 to advocate for reform and better funding of Child Protective Services in Dallas and across the state. The research and advocacy organization is dedicated to representing the needs of Texas children who have been the victims of abuse and neglect by educating decision-makers and the public about child abuse. In Texas, about 200 children are victims of child abuse or neglect each day according to TexProtects statistics. The organization supports evidence-based prevention programs such as the researched-based Texas Home Visit Program (THVP), which teaches positive parenting practices to at-risk families. With TexProtects' support, the Texas State Legislature recently voted to budget an additional $7.9 million to THVP. TexProtects founder and director Madeline McClure will accept the Luminary Award for regional achievement.
The Children's Defense Fund and Stand for Children work with state, local and national child advocates to improve the lives of children. Marian Wright Edelman created the Children's Defense Fund in 1973 after observing poverty's devastating effects on children while working with Martin Luther King's Poor People's Campaign in the 1960s. The organization advocates for better health care, child care and nutrition, equal educational opportunities and leadership training for children, particularly disadvantaged children. Recent campaigns include the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign, Black Community Crusade for Children and Health Coverage for All Children Campaign. Edelman's son, Jonah, created Stand for Children in 1996 to focus on improving public education. The advocacy organization focuses on raising academic standards by increasing access to pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten, recruiting high quality teachers and principals and supporting college readiness programs. Stand Up for Children recently played a key role in supporting education reform legislation in six of its nine chapter states. Jonah Edelman will accept the national Luminary Award for the Children's Defense Fund and Stand for Children.
The Luminary Award was created in 2009 by the Simmons School to honor individuals and organizations that have shown an extraordinary commitment to improving people’s lives through education. The award is given annually to a local, regional and national recipient.
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