Dr. John B. King Jr., 10th U.S. Secretary of Education and President & CEO of The Education Trust, served as keynote speaker at the Luncheon which raised over $1,000,000 to support YES Prep’s 19 campuses and opening of its first two elementary schools.
“Almost 97% of our students are in A or B rated schools and are outperforming full pre-K to 12th grade programs, just imagine what we will do when we open elementary schools,” remarked CEO Mark DiBella about the charter school’s plan to open 10 feeder elementary schools over the next five years at YES Prep Public Schools’ Third Annual Leading Houston Forward Luncheon, that took place on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at the Wortham Theater Center.
The event raised over $1,000,000, including $234,225 in additional day-of donations, thanks to an anonymous donor's incentive dollar for dollar match of up to $100,000. Chaired by Emily and Jordan Marye, the luncheon hosted almost 400 guests in support of the 14,100 students in grades 6-12 at YES Prep’s current 19 campuses across Houston as well its first two elementary schools slated to open in August 2020. Regarding their support and commitment as a YES Prep board member and chair of the event, Jordan shared, “Emily and I support YES Prep because it is the only major charter district solely focused on Houston and that consistently delivers unmatched student achievement results. YES Prep is truly leading Houston forward and we are proud to be a part of this mission.”
Guests at the luncheon enjoyed a captivating keynote address from Dr. John B. King Jr., a passionate social justice and civil rights advocate and inspiring educator. Tapped by President Obama in 2016 to lead the U.S. Department of Education and commended for his commitment to “preparing every child for success,” King currently serves as the president and CEO of The Education Trust, a national nonprofit that works to close opportunity gaps that disproportionately affect students of color and students from low-income families.
Named after the YES Prep founder and visionary, the Chris Barbic Legacy Award was presented to longtime corporate supporter Vitol, for their tireless commitment to YES Prep’s mission. Veteran educator Mark DiBella shared, “Vitol has been a humble partner and champion of YES Prep for over a decade, supporting the fundamental belief that we hold at YES Prep - that all children deserve equitable access to educational excellence.” Vitol is a private company founded in Rotterdam in 1966 and has 40 offices worldwide and serves major energy and industrial customers across the globe.
Prior to the luncheon, YES Prep principals and school leaders participated in an informative round table discussion with Dr. King to learn from his experiences while diving deeper into our commitment towards educational equity. Chief Program Officer Nella Garcia Urban served as the event emcee and welcomed the Regaldo family from YES Prep Southeast, the Dexter family from YES Prep North Forest, and the Benito family from YES Prep North Central to join her on the stage in recognition of YES Prep’s families past, present and future.
On Tuesday, October 15, the evening before the luncheon, top donors were invited to a private dinner hosted by Susan and Fayez Sarofim. Dr. King and YES Prep board member Luis Elizondo Thomson engaged attendees with a fireside style chat as they discussed current educational inequities and the increasing demand for an educated workforce in the U.S. to ensure the continued vitality for generations to come.