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Community Conversations: Head Start of Greater Dallas Lead by Black Woman for First Time

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Head Start of Greater Dallas has educated more than 100,000 kids in their 30 years of existence in North Texas. Many of them living below the poverty line. One of those previous children is now the president of their board.

Laura Cobb Hayes says it’s more than a title. She is also now the first Black woman to hold the position with the non-profit that is one of the biggest 501c3’s in North Texas.

"It’s a wonderful feeling. It just makes me warm all over and it’s an incredible opportunity to get give back. We provide early childhood education for students from birth to five-years-old. It’s an all-day program that’s free for families, but they must apply. To be eligible, they must be at 100-percent of the poverty guidelines and once they are in the program, the students are provided a research-based curriculum.

Cobb Hayes said the help is needed more than ever before.

"90% of the students that we serve are black and brown children, so we have been a leader in making sure that we have a diverse board. I can speak from being a student with Head Start many years ago that my parents did the best that they could,” Cobb Hayes said. "My mother worked full time and she took care of three kids. My father worked several jobs. They did the best they could and brought everything to the table that they could and that is the situation with most of our head start parents. Most of them are working and employed full time and need some assistance."

She said with Head Start its not about a handout but a hand up.

"We even have a nutritional program. The students get two nutritious meals and a snack every day. They get medical examinations. They get dental and vision examinations, because we know that all of these things contribute to where a child is when they are ready to learn and start kindergarten," she said. "That’s our goal here at Head Start. [We want] to make sure that students are ready for school and that the families are supported.”

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