One of the best ways for businesses to become more involved – and to improve education in the process – is the DISD’s Adopt-A-School program.

The program was created to promote greater business and community involvement in the public schools to strengthen and enhance the quality of education, says Lee Hailey of the DISD Community Outreach Department.

Currently, 12 businesses have adopted eight East Dallas/Lakewood elementary, middle and high schools.

Areas of involvement for the DISD program include volunteering, funding, donating equipment, and supporting student incentive and teacher recognition programs.

“The term ‘adoption’ is sometimes misinterpreted,” Hailey says. “An adoption partnership between a business and a school is based upon the resources of the business and the needs of the school.

“The amount of participation is left up to each partnership, and the level of participation is limited only by the imagination.”

MEPC American Properties, a real estate development company in Addison, adopted Alex Sanger Elementary School more than 10 years ago.

The company sponsors the school’s Reading Is Fundamental program and provides three to four books per year for each Sanger student. MEPC also sponsors a holiday art and essay contest. Winners from each grade level receive gift certificates to area retail stores.

Children who maintain perfect attendance, are on the A honor roll and display good citizenship are rewarded with a sundae bar, where students make and enjoy ice cream sundaes.

A popcorn machine also was donated to the school this year as part of the student incentive program. The school’s outdoor signs were an MEPC donation, and the company sponsors the school’s science fair, providing awards for top winners.

For teachers, MEPC provides dinner for the twice annual Parent-Teacher night, and during teacher appreciation week, teachers, staff and custodians all receive gift certificates.

“The Adopt-A-School program is a cost-effective way for companies to actively demonstrate their concern for the education of our city’s children,” says MEPC President David Gruber.

MEPC believes businesses should invest in education to ensure a productive future work source, he says.

The DISD Adopt-A-School program is flexible, and more than one company can adopt a school. Albertson’s at Casa Linda and Church’s Fried Chicken also have adopted Alex Sanger.

Albertson’s has donated food items such as candy bars and cakes and Dallas Cowboy Football posters, which were used as rewards for student performance and attendance. Employees from Church’s helped teachers, parents and students with an end-of-the-year school clean up day and provided lunch.

“All of our adopters are wonderful,” says Sanger principal Mary Bolden. “If we have a need, all we have to do is pick up the phone.”

East Dallas/Lakewood schools that have adopters are Woodrow Wilson High School, J.L. Long Middle School, and Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, William Lipscomb, Mt. Auburn and Ignacio Zaragoza elementary schools.

Business interested in the Adopt-A-School program can contact Hailey at DISD or the Greater East Dallas Chamber of Commerce.