Story by Bora Laci. Video by Isabella Montague. Photos provided by Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation.
Dallas Doing Good has had the privilege of partnering with the Communities Foundation of Texas for North Texas Giving Day over the past few years, but this year, we are doing it Texas BIG. It is the 15th anniversary of the largest community giving event in the nation, so we have selected 15 organizations to highlight leading up to Giving Day on September 21. Early giving kicked off on September 1.
Born out of a desire to bring about positive change and bridge the gaps in educational opportunities for the youth, the Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation (VMYDF) exists to change lives, one young mind at a time.
The foundation’s genesis traces back to a simple yet impactful summer initiative that inspired camaraderie and shared dreams. In 2007, John Neill and a group of friends ventured into the Vickery Meadow neighborhood to provide youth soccer and basketball programs. This experience was transformative, allowing them to witness the joy of the neighborhood’s children and understand their pressing needs.
This initial interaction ignited a spark of compassion and a desire to create a lasting impact. Through evidence-based strategies, John and his colleagues sought ways to enrich the lives of Vickery Meadow’s youth, paving the way for their future academic and professional success. What truly sets VMYDF apart is its unwavering commitment to holistic development, community collaboration, and fostering the potential in young minds.
As VMYDF embarked on its journey, it implemented programs like the EAGLE Scholars program, which serves students from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Recognizing that college readiness begins at an early age, the program collaborates with middle schools to engage students in their journey toward higher education. The program empowers scholars and their families by equipping them with the tools and resources needed to navigate the complex path of post-secondary education.
The VMYDF does not only implement programs for youth– they also focus on empowering parents to play a proactive role in their children’s education. The Mom’s Group initiative is a testament to this. These groups provide a platform for mothers to connect, support, and learn from one another. By offering education and fellowship, these groups increase mothers’ understanding of how to support their children’s success in school and provide valuable resources for children. The program strengthens families, fostering a more connected and resilient community.
VMYDF’s impact extends beyond academics, recognizing that children and youth’s well-being and holistic development involve addressing various aspects of their lives. The foundation’s holistic approach focuses on housing stability, mental health, financial empowerment, and more. VMYDF ensures that the community’s needs are met comprehensively by working closely with partners.
Community collaboration lies at the heart of the approach at VMDYF. They actively seek and foster partnerships with various nonprofit organizations, corporations, local school districts, and local colleges. This collaborative ecosystem amplifies the impact of their initiatives and creates opportunities that provide access to a diverse array of resources. The partnerships enrich students’ journey in the Vickery Mead community, from the arts to mental health support, health classes, financial empowerment instruction, career and college trips, mock interviewing practice, and resume review.
Dr. Janet Morrison-Lane, the executive director, says that they take immense pride in the long-term relationships and connectedness they have nurtured over the last 16 years.
“These relationships center VMYDF as a robust hub for partner organizations to utilize in their pursuit of holistic community development. Through this collaborative approach, we offer a comprehensive set of classes and experiences that address diverse needs,” Dr. Morrison-Lane says.
Their partners include Big Thought, Dallas ISD, Boys and Girls Clubs of Dallas, The Concilio, Cara Mia, Outloud Dallas, Writers Garrett, First Tee of Dallas, AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas Public Library, and Dallas Museum of Art, among others.
“By working together, we recognize that the challenges faced by our community can be more effectively overcome. The synergy created through collaboration enables us to provide a holistic network of support, creating a brighter and more promising future for everyone,” Dr. Morrison-Lane says.
Significant milestones and challenges have marked VMYDF’s journey. As the foundation persevered, it expanded its programming to address the community’s evolving needs. During the global COVID-19 pandemic, VMYDF swiftly pivoted to virtual programming, ensuring that its Scholars and families continued to receive support and engagement. The foundation’s resilience and adaptability earned it the Superintendent’s Award in 2021, a testament to its commitment to excellence and innovation.
With the anticipation of a new building and new dreams in 2023, VMYDF envisions becoming an Educational Hub for the community in the future. This hub will serve as a resource for individuals of all ages, nurturing aspirations and providing the information and resources needed to achieve higher education. The foundation aims to foster genuine communication across cultures and languages, bridging gaps and strengthening the community’s fabric.
The Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation stands as a testament to what can be achieved through compassion, collaboration, and unwavering dedication. Their journey is a reminder that transformational change begins with a single step and a collective commitment to shaping a better future.
“Together, we can pave the way for brighter tomorrows and build a stronger, more vibrant community for generations to come,” Dr. Morrison-Lane says.