When the nonprofit education organization My Possibilities opened 15 years ago, it arrived two years in the making from Charmaine Solomon, who built the company from the ground up alongside two other mothers of children with disabilities. The idea came to the group of friends while meeting for coffee in a Starbucks, and they jotted down plans on a napkin for three branches; an education component, a career component and a residential component.
They took their plan to the city of Plano and were met with support from hundreds of families. Upon opening in 2008, My Possibilities welcomed 10 students, with the promise to continue education for adults with disabilities after aging out of the public school system. Fifteen years down the road, My Possibilities now serves 500 HIPsters, or “hugely important people,” and the organization plans to serve even more.
To commemorate 15 years of My Possibilities, a mural featuring some of the HIPsters wasinstalled at level one of Galleria Dallas, in full view across from the Apple Store.
“Over the years, we realized that it's really great to connect people on that personal level,” says Adrienne Maegors, My Possibilities’ director of marketing and communications. “So being able to have their faces out in the open and visible like that is something that's really important to us and exciting for them. We took a group out the day that it was unveiled and got to watch their reaction as they saw a bunch of their friends up on this giant wall.”
The mural also contains an image of the napkin that started it all, a QR code where beholders can make donations and information about My Possibilities’ upcoming Employment Innovations School.
With the Employment Innovations School, which will be located next to the main facility, My Possibilities plans to help 300 additional HIPsters develop the skills necessary for success in the workplace. The school will open this coming September in the form of a 30,000-square-foot building offering six different career tracks to the students. These career tracks “will be tied to administration, culinary, retail, hospitality, technology and facilities”
“Instead of us taking a guess that we think these are the things you should train to be in this job, you've got people that are going ‘Well, this is the job we would hire for. And here are the things that we believe you need to be able to train to,’” says Michael Thomas, executive director of My Possibilities. “And that's how we're crafting our program.”
“The idea is that if they get to explore in their first semester, if they want to go in one of those tracks, then they would get to explore the different tracks,” adds Maegors. “And then eventually choose one, and hopefully gain those soft and hard skills during their time there to actually get an MP certification, which says they’ve completed our program. We’re partnering with other organizations who would then hire our individuals once they finish that program.”
Some of these organizations include BREAD Financial, which is powering the Employment Innovations School, as well as Liberty Mutual, H-E-B and Capital One.
"At Capital One we remain committed to elevating our partnerships to meet the ever-evolving needs of the community,” says Jason Lines, Capital One’s VP and a My Possibilities board member. “Through our financial investment and volunteer support, we are partnering with My Possibilities to grow the workforce impact through programs like the new labs opening later this year."
Upon opening, the school will fulfill Solomon’s career component she visualized when first mapping out My Possibilities.
Meanwhile, the residential component is already underway. Mission Hills is hard at work spearheading the My Possibilities residential project, which is set to span over 178 acres on a defunct golf course. Located near Lake Ray Hubbard in Garland, the golf course was rezoned with the purpose of serving as a housing community.
“The idea is that there'll be about 250 homes there 50, of which MP will retain and use as group homes, but anyone could buy any of the remaining homes,” says Maegors. “They're all universally designed so that they meet the needs of anyone with any kind of physical or intellectual disabilities, and fill that void for parents of our aging HIPsters who are having to make those tough decisions, like ‘What happens when I'm not around anymore? Who's looking after my adult child?’”
While there’s no solid opening date for My Possibilities’ residential component, the opening of the Employment Innovations School is imminent. My Possibilities’ Employment Innovations School will celebrate its grand opening on September 21, 2023 at 9 a.m., as part of North Texas Giving Day.