MySweetWishList: Educational First Steps

According to Educational First Steps Board Member and Chief Secret Santa Coordinator Jennifer Mosle,

Jennifer Mosle*

Educational First Steps*

“Everyone likes a Secret Santa! Educational First Steps does the extraordinary: transforming low income childcare centers in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods into nationally accredited early learning centers that serve thousands of children in North Texas. Our ‘one wish’ for this holiday season is to help grant a Secret Santa wish for each of the centers that have worked over a three-year period to reach national accreditation – that would be 53 wishes! 

“You see, these centers are so financially strapped they can’t afford vans to transport the children, shade structures for the playground, playground equipment, or even that new stove for the kitchen where they cook up to three meals a day for the children in their care while their parents work. 

“We hope you will decide to be an Educational First Steps Secret Santa and grant a wish for one of our deserving accredited centers.

“Wishes are available in three Secret Santa levels:

  • “$5,000 – will get a Gold Star on our Holiday Tree and 10 books donated to the center in your name
  • “$2,500 – will get a Silver Star on our Holiday Tree and 8 books donated to the center in your name.
  • “$1,000 – will get a White Star on our Holiday Tree and 5 books donated to the center in your name

Educational First Steps*

“Monetary or in-kind gifts like those mentioned above will make a lasting, meaningful gift to these centers that will allow them to create safe and nurturing learning environments for generations of children.

“To become a Secret Santa for Educational First Steps, simply visit or contact Educational First Steps Senior Development Director Judy Schecter at 214.824.7940. Thank you!”

-By Jennifer Mosle, Educational First Steps Board Member and Chief Secret Santa Coordinator

* Photo provided by Educational First Steps

MySweetCharity Opportunity: One Childhood One Chance Luncheon

According to Merry Munson Wyatt, Kathryn Munson Beach and Meg Munson McGonigle,

As sisters, we are excited to co-chair the Friday, November 17thOne Childhood One Chance Luncheon,” which brings Dallas an impressive opportunity to join Educational First Steps (EFS) in launching at-risk young lives into promising futures.

This is the fifth year of this shining event presented by an organization we’ve seen making inroads and creating quality early education centers in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods since 1990.

EFS has been a family affair for 27 years. It was founded by our great uncle, David Munson Sr., on his belief that every child, regardless of their economic circumstances or their zip code, deserves and needs a quality education.

We will join our cousins, David Munson Jr., Charles Munson and John Munson, who are serving as honorary co-chairs for the event.

Sonia Manzano*

Held at the Omni Dallas Hotel, the luncheon will feature Sonia Manzano, who inspired, educated and delighted children and families as “Maria” on Sesame Street for over 30 years. Named among the “25 Greatest Latino Role Models Ever” by Latina Magazine, Manzano broke ground as one of the first Hispanic characters on national television.

Her latest book, “Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx,” is Manzano’s tale of perseverance and courage in overcoming countless obstacles to become one of the most influential Latinas in television. She will inspire us as a community committed to supporting common sense, real-life solutions for narrowing the disparities among us in early childhood chances.  

Today, EFS partners with 93 daycare centers in at-risk neighborhoods, carrying out a results-driven plan for becoming nationally accredited preschools, at no cost to the centers, teachers or parents. These centers progress from daycares providing little more than babysitting to nationally accredited early education centers that become anchors in their neighborhoods while preparing more of our children for school and life success.

EFS, which started in south Dallas, has grown to serve Tarrant, Denton, Johnson, Collin and Grayson counties, collaborating across 17 school districts. They are continually pushing the boundaries and aggressively scaling programs to place more students in quality learning environments. We are excited to invite you to be part of furthering their work.

We have found this luncheon to be smart, streamlined, elegant and mission-critical in so many ways. Once you’ve been, you’ll find yourself returning each year!  

For information about underwriting opportunities or tickets, contact Judy Schecter at 214.824.7940. Table for ten starts at $2,000, with six levels of increasing opportunities. Corporate and naming opportunities are also available. The event is open to the public, with single tickets priced at $175. More at

* Photo credit: Richard Termine 
** Photo provided by Educational First Steps

Educational First Steps Oversteps Its $5M Goal To Provide High-Quality Early Education For At-Risk Children

It’s routine to hear that a group is launching a campaign to raise a load of money. That announcement triggers an uphill challenge to meet a monumental goal that’s beyond six figures. What makes it especially trying is the fact that there are so many deserving nonprofits after the same dollars. But there is good news. And that is the fact that North Texas has the most incredibly generous philanthropist anywhere. Whether it’s the $10 variety or the billionaire type, people in these parts put their dollars where it help those friends and strangers in need.

All that said, here is a perfect example of a fundraising campaign that more than achieved its goal.

Less than two years ago, Education First Steps kicked off its “Step Up” program expansion campaign with a goal of $5M. With that money the Dallas-based nonprofits planned “to bring high-quality early education to 4,800 at-risk children in North Texas every year, setting them on a path to school and life success.”

Not only did they hit their goal, they surpassed it with a whopping $5.9M, thanks to donations from 730 individuals and foundations including the following:

  • $1 million+: Dallas Women’s Foundation and Harold Simmons Foundation
  • $100,000 – $200,000: Lydia and Bill Addy, Anonymous, Alice and Bill Barnett, Jennifer and Jon Mosle, The Moody Foundation, Charles Munson, Mona and David Mona Munson and The Rees-Jones Foundation
  • $50,000 – $99,999: Anonymous, Don and Ruth Buchholz, Katherine C. Carmody Charitable Trust, The Dallas Foundation, Exxon Mobil, Hillcrest Foundation, Hoblitzelle Foundation, The Hoglund Foundation, Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation, Laurie Wyly Matthews Fund, North Texas Giving Day, Norma and Don Stone and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas
  • $25,000 – $49,999: Bonnie and Gary Beck, Fran and Mark Berg, Fossil Foundation, Barb and Dan Garton, Beth and Jim Gold, Megan and Casey McManemin, Dave Munson Jr., John Munson, Najim Family Foundation, Susan Simon, Margaret and Jaime Spellings and Octavia Spencer
  • $10,000 – $24,999: 7-Eleven, Ben E. Keith, Nancy and John Breitfeller, The Communities Foundation of Texas, Dallas CityScape, Kathy Crow, Sally and Bill Estes, Sandra and Henry Estess, Rachel Goldberger and Shawn Orme, Josephine Hughes, Dorothy Kennington, Brett and Lester Levy, Michelle and Bill Lockhart, Sarah Losinger, John Munson, Partners Real Estate Group, Betty and Gerald Regard, The Rosewood Foundation, Julie and Trem Smith, Sterling Foundation, Michele Valdez and Gary Kennedy, CiCi and Giffen Weinmann Foundation

According to Education First Steps Executive Director John Breitfeller, “Breaking the cycle of poverty and underachievement requires disruptive, system-wide solutions. With the extraordinary investment the community has made in our work, Education First Steps is accelerating the spread of quality early childhood education in high-need neighborhoods and introducing new programs to make sure the best childcare centers remain strong and accessible to economically disadvantaged families.”

One of the results of the campaign was the creation of the Child Care Bridge Fund, thanks to the gift from the Dallas Women’s Foundation. It will provide “short-term scholarships for parents on the state subsidy wait list, so they can connect immediately with high-quality care for their children.” This issue was brought to the attention of many attending the Dallas Women’s Foundation’s 30th Annual Luncheon, where DFW President/CEO Ros Dawson described the organization’s Bridge Project that is helping women with childcare.

But the total money raised was even more that the original, hoped-for amount. Tarrant County kicked in additional funding, bringing a final count of more than $7M, which will help support the expansion of the program in Tarrant County. Since 2014, Educational First Steps “has increased the number of children it reaches in Tarrant County by 50 percent.”  Those contributing to the Tarrant County efforts included the following:

  • $100,000 – $249,999: Sid W. Richardson Foundation
  • $50,000 – $99,999: The Morris Foundation, Rainwater Charitable Foundation, The Ryan Foundation
  • $25,000 – $49,999: Community Foundation of North Texas, Eddleman – McFarland Day Nursery Fund, Helen Irwin Littauer Educational Trust, The Lowe Foundation
  • $10,000 – $24,999: The Ninnie L. Baird Foundation, Mary Potishman Lard Trust, The Miles Foundation

Thanks to this campaign overachieving its efforts, 4,800 children in Dallas and Tarrant counties will have a stronger foundation for lifelong learning.

MySweetWishList: Educational First Steps

According to Educational First Steps Executive Director John Breitfeller,

John Breitfeller*

John Breitfeller*

“My wish is that all children receive the early childhood experiences they need and deserve. They make it possible for children of all backgrounds to learn how to interact positively with the world and contribute to it using their full talents, in school and in life.

“For parents among the working poor, too few affordable, high-quality childcare options exist. Educational First Steps’ mission is to provide these life-altering experiences to at-risk children. Working hand–in-hand with daycare centers in the poorest neighborhoods in 17 North Texas school districts, we create nationally recognized early childhood programs, staffed by trained, professional teachers. By teaching positive social interaction and academic skill-building, we prepare these at-risk children from the day they are born to enter school and succeed.

Educational First Steps*

Educational First Steps*

“How can MySweetCharity readers help? From December 11 through January 3, join us at the Galleria Mall for Dallas CityScape, which features spectacular scenes of Dallas landmarks and other amazing scenes, from pirate ships to outer space, created with toy bricks. Tickets to Dallas CityScape are $3, and sponsorships of bricks are available for $500, all benefiting Educational First Steps.

“And, if you can’t join us at Dallas CityScape, consider making an investment in all our children during the years that matter most, by making an end-of-year donation online. It’s the smartest investment we can ever make.”

-By John Breitfeller, Educational First Steps executive director

* Graphic and photo provided by Educational First Steps

Academy Award-Winning Octavia Spencer To Be Keynote Speaker At Educational First Steps’ 25th Anniversary Luncheon

Octavia Spencer (Photo credit: Randee St. Nicholas)*

Octavia Spencer (Photo credit: Randee St. Nicholas)*

The news for the upcoming fundraising season is starting to pour in. As part of its 25th anniversary celebration, Educational First Steps is going to host One Childhood One Chance Luncheon at the Omni Dallas on Friday, October 23, with some “help.” That help is thanks to “The Help”’s Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer.

In addition to her work in the film industry, the 5’2” Spencer is an author despite having dyslexia. She’s written two children’s books, the latest being “Randi Rhodes Ninja Detective: The Sweetest Heist in History” just released this past spring.

Educational First Steps*

Educational First Steps*

But she was doing more than making the book-signing rounds. In Los Angeles she hosted the 5th annual Spring Break: Destination Education event “to help young students succeed in high school and stay on track to graduate.”

According to Octavia, who was one of six children raised by a single mom, “This organization spoke to me because education was my own way out of poverty. My mom pushed me to do well in school, but many kids need a role model — not to mention academic support — to help them succeed in school and beyond.”

Like the Los Angeles organization, Educational First Steps “partners with preschools, daycare centers and at-home caregivers in impoverished neighborhoods, helping them to transform babysitting into teaching and to give the youngest at-risk children a strong foundation of social and academic skills.”

The luncheon is being chaired by Brett Levy and Michelle Lockhart, who have arranged to have Education First Steps Founders Mona and Dave Munson, Sandra Estess and Joyce and Linus Wright serve as honorary co-chairs.

* Photo and graphic provided by Educational First Steps