Society / The Seen

Sesame Street Favorite Helps a Houston Charter School Network Raise $1 Million

YES Prep Continues to Grow Its Mission

BY // 11.04.21
photography Priscilla Dickson

What: A profitable doubleheader for YES Prep Public Schools with the “Luminaries Dinner” and the “Leading Houston Forward” luncheon

Where: The dinner took place at the home of Barbara and Michael Gamson, the luncheon was held at Wortham Theater Center

PC Moments:  The dinner featured a fireside chat between headliner Sesame Street‘s “Maria” Sonia Manzano and Professor Ruth N. Lopez Turley, director of the Houston Education Research Consortium at Rice University. Their topic was educational inequities and efforts to support students from diverse backgrounds.

An American actress, screenwriter, author, speaker and singer-songwriter, Manzano played Maria on Sesame Street from 1971 until her departure in 2015. She is the creator of the animated children’s television series Alma’s Way, from Fred Rogers Productions, and also serves as an executive producer, writer and voice actor for the show. The Emmy Award-winner shared her personal story, including her own educational inequities and her ability, despite adversity, to become one of the nation’s most influential Latinas.

“At YES Prep, a record number of families are turning to our dedicated teachers and staff for the kind of education and care that can change students’ lives, helping them achieve at the highest levels on their path to college and careers of their choice,” YES Prep Public Schools CEO Mark DiBella told the gathering of 300.

Longtime YES Prep supporter Capital One was recognized with the Chris Barbic Legacy Award, named after the school district’s founder, a fervent advocate for quality public education for every student no matter where they live.

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The $1 million-plus luncheon proceeds will benefit YES Prep Public Schools students and recent graduates, who are in college. As YES Prep continues its growth, the public charter school system plans to have opened six additional campuses serving 22,000 Houston children in pre-K through fifth grade by 2024.

PC Seen: Luncheon chairs Debi and Mickey Barrett, Debra and Mark Gregg, Jim Nicholas, Yasmin Huebinger, Leslie Smith, Lisa Helfman, Denise Hester, Ann and Richard Vaughan, Meredith and Ben Marshall, Dylan and Jordan Seff, Shirley and Brian Colona, Melanie Trent, Natalie and Steve Mohtashami, and Jill and Frank Stagg.

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