It’s not every day that Dallasites get to dine with an Academy Award-nominated actress. But more than 1,000 lucky philanthropists got to do just that during the Attorneys Serving the Community (ASC) luncheon at the Hilton Anatole, featuring keynote speaker Viola Davis.
Davis, best known for her roles in The Help and Doubt, as well as her performance opposite Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love, gave a powerful speech about growing up in poverty. During high school, theater was her escape, and her talent secured her a full scholarship to the Young People’s School of the Performing Arts, after which she attended Juilliard. In addition to success in TV and film and on Broadway, Davis was named one of Time’s most influential people of 2012.
Davis’ story of following her dreams is similar to many of the girls in the Foundation for the Education of Young Women (FEYW) network, the luncheon’s beneficiary. FEYW partners with urban school districts to create a network of all-girls public schools across Texas to give young women the academic and leadership skills to achieve success in college and in life. Specifically the day’s proceeds helped fund the internship program at Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, the first FEYW network school in Dallas, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Attendees also got to hear from Irma Rangel graduate Karla Guadalupe Garcia Rico, who shared that she is the first in her family to attend college; this fall she will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After meeting Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson at her school, Rico’s goal is to become U.S. president.
Lynn McBee also spoke, specifically about the good work being done in the FEYW and her own pride about aiding in its mission.
“Four of our seven FEYW network schools had graduating seniors this year,” McBee said. “All of them — 146 young women — graduated and received more than $14.6 million in scholarships, and 100 percent of them are attending a four-year college or university.
“Personally, this is the most transformative work I’ve done, and it’s moving the needle in education by better equipping these young women for college and leadership positions.”
Attorneys Serving the Community brings together women lawyers to support local nonprofit organizations whose programs benefit women, children and families. ASC has raised $3.9 million in its 28-year history, and, thanks to Viola Davis, helped bring in $400,000 for the Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School’s internship program.