Dallas Capital Bank donated $2,500 and dozens of college T-shirts to RISD Academy this week as part of the local bank’s community outreach.

Wendy Blackwell is an executive vice president with the bank at Spring Valley Road and the Tollway. She also is a member of 100 Women of Richardson, which supports organizations across the city.

Maria Ethetton, parent community outreach support specialist at RISD Academy, presented before the 100 Women of Richardson earlier this year but didn’t receive enough votes to qualify for aid from the women’s group. But Wendy was impressed and recognized the needs of RISD Academy.

“I was incredibly moved by what Maria shared, and knew I needed to help,” Blackwell said. “What struck me most was that the majority of the needs were not educational in nature. She was asking for help to keep students equipped with very basic life necessities, such as food and clothing. That made me realize how hard it must be on teachers and school staff to get past the worries in the kids’ lives so that they can learn. A hungry child can’t possibly absorb as much in the classroom as they could if they were full. A child worried about a clean change of clothes probably won’t make as good of a grade on a test as one that can concentrate on the task at hand. I loved that despite how many challenges the majority of the students face, the school was embracing activities such as college T-shirt days. What a great way to reinforce good choices, stay in school messages and continuing education for better job opportunities. It broke my heart that so few kids had college T-shirts to wear on Wednesdays.”

Blackwell lives in Richardson and said she fortunately works for a terrific locally owned and locally managed bank, which has a committee that oversees giving and volunteer efforts.

After bringing RISD Academy’s needs to the table, the committee voted to give the remaining $2,500 in its 2019 budget to the school. Blackwell said Dallas Capital Bank employees enhanced the donation through a college T-shirt drive, collecting 80 new youth shirts for RISD Academy students.

“She shared with her bank the vision we have for our elementary scholars that includes teaching them to envision themselves as college students,” Ethetton said. “One way to get the kids thinking about college is to have them participate in college T-shirt Wednesdays, which our students love because they get to wear a college shirt instead of their uniform.”

Another way Ethetton prepares students for college is by helping parents open 529 savings plans, which she was doing for one RISD Academy parent when Blackwell and her team arrived to present the donation.

The foyer at RISD Academy is full of student art this week as we celebrate Halloween and Dia de los Muertos.

RISD Academy Scholars Get College T-Shirts From Dallas Capital Bank was originally published in Richardson ISD Newsdesk on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.