What do you think you can do with $100 million?
A prominent faith leader in southern Dallas believes he can change the world with it.
For the first time since creating the new TD Jakes Foundation last month, Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter's House of Dallas sat down with NBC 5 to talk about his mission, his legacy and his mindset in the new year.
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And in the spirit of Valentine’s day and the launch of the foundation, he has a message to share with the community.
“I just want to encourage people to be a little bit more loving in the midst of all the vitriol, and animosity that I see traveling back-and-forth," he said in an interview this week. "Learn that we don’t always have to agree about everything in order to have conversation and respect.”
The focus of his new mission is straight forward: Connect people with the ability to help to the people who need it.
That means making the most of his connections to huge companies and CEOs that often times, don’t know where to start in giving back.
Bishop Jakes says he knows the communities and the organizations that need help and he wants to be the bridge between the two.
But the money wouldn't go just anywhere. He's focusing on improving education, workforce preparedness and job training within the STEM and STEAM industries for women, people of color and struggling families.
Bishop Jakes said it could turn into workforce housing for people who can’t afford to live in the cities they work in or even collaborations with universities and colleges to help people find work after they graduate.
He said the reason for all of this is to prevent a jobs crisis.
“We want to close the gap between minority participation and women’s inclusion into these futuristic jobs. The statistics say that if we don’t do anything and get active about it, the unemployment gap for blacks, in particular, will go from 8 percent right now in unemployment to 20% over the next 10 years. We want to be proactive in closing that gap," he said.
Bishop Jakes founded the Texas Offenders Re-Entry Initiative 15 years ago, which helps former inmates find work after prison. He said this foundation continues that same type of mission in giving first and second chances to the disenfranchised.
While these new efforts won't happen overnight, he said hopes it serves as a sort of legacy he can leave behind for North Texas.
“I’m 62 years old and you start to think about your successors and what that might look like," he said. "I’m not planning to leave anytime soon or anything like that. But I wanted to harness, for example, our Texas Defenders Re-Entry Initiative -- and all of the work that we’ve done with the criminal justice system, as well as her STEAM programs and educational opportunities -- and put them together in case our successor is not interested in that. I want to still be able to provide funding for those programs so that they can continue to be a part of my legacy and I wanted them to continue to exist here in Dallas, here in Texas and also around the world."
Hattie Hill -- a member of the Dallas Chamber's board of directors -- has been named the first CEO of the TD Jakes Foundation, a move which could give Dallas a bigger opportunity in addressing some of these challenges seen here like unemployment and economic disparity in parts of the city.
Being based in Dallas, the foundation will have a leg up on improving lives in North Texas but Bishop Jakes said the plan is for the mission is going global. In fact, after our interview, we were told he had a meeting with Jamaican officials for a potential collaboration, with targets in the works in Chicago and Detroit.