This organization is ensuring that North Texas residents can receive a higher education
Courtesy of The Commit Partnership
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For Festus Oyinwola, a 19-year-old first-generation college student from Dallas, Texas, the financial burden of attending college made his higher education dreams feel like a faraway goal.

As his high school graduation neared, Oyinwola feared he would have to interrupt his educational pursuits for at least a year to save up to attend college.

That changed when Oyinwola learned of the Dallas County Promise, a new program launched by The Commit Partnership, a community navigator that works to ensure that all North Texas students receive an equitable education.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

The Dallas County Promise covers any cost of tuition not included in financial aid grants. To date, nearly 60 high schools in Dallas County currently participate in this initiative.

It pairs students — including Oyinwola — with a success coach for the following three years of their education.

To ensure that students like Oyinwola have the opportunity to build a solid foundation, The Commit Partnership is supported by businesses like Capital One who are committed to driving meaningful change in Dallas County through improved access to education.

The bank's support comes as part of its initial $200 million, multi-year commitment to advance socioeconomic mobility through the Capital One Impact Initiative.


"Businesses have a responsibility as neighbors in our community to help foster a more equitable and vibrant future," said Sanjiv Yajnik, President of Financial Services of Capital One. With this level of support, the plan is to build thriving, inclusive communities that generate and foster prosperity."

The education gap exists: 85% of jobs that pay a living wage require a postsecondary degree while only nearly 40% of young adults in Dallas hold an associate's degree or higher. The Dallas County Promise strives to help build a key foundation for professional success by ensuring that students have the resources needed to attend college.

In an effort to bridge that gap, The Commit Partnership has also launched Dallas Thrives, an initiative that aims to double the number of young adults earning a living wage by 2040. This program will lean into strategic partnerships with local businesses, nonprofits, elected officials and educators to launch Dallas Thrives and strive to create lasting change.

Those initiatives aim to prepare North Texas students like Oyinwola for success in the classroom and workforce.

Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

As a Promise Scholar, Oyinwola first attended Richland College and has since transferred to the University of North Texas at Dallas where he studies biology and chemistry. Receiving tuition assistance has enabled Owinyola to spend less time worrying about how to pay for his studies and instead focus on his goal of attending medical school.

He hopes to serve as a model for his younger sister and create a cycle for his family members to pursue a higher education directly following high school. Now that his sister is approaching her own high school graduation, Oyinwola has encouraged her to apply for the Dallas County Promise so she too can have the same opportunities to study in her field of interest.

"When I was in my first year of college, I had to figure out most of those things by myself," Oyinwola says. "My hope is that she doesn't really have to do that because she has me."

Learn more about how Capital One is closing gaps in equity and opportunity.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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