Summer Camp Recap: Around the World in 38 Days!

This summer, Jubilee kids embarked on global adventures in their own backyard. From Kenya to Haiti to Norway to Thailand, we explored different cultures, climates, geographies, and even dabbled in international art forms with local artists.

To meet the growing demand for quality summer enrichment in Southeast Dallas, Jubilee increased its summer camp capacity by 66 students by using Davids’ Place (a Jubilee facility that houses a Head Start preschool during the school year) classrooms for Kinder-2nd grade students.

This summer expansion made possible by generous donors and volunteers made a huge impact on the Jubilee Park community this summer.

216 students served - a nearly 50% increase!

34,200 enrichment hours provided

11,400 meals served

150 volunteers served 6,075 hours in 2 months!

10,800 hours of physical activity

5 field trips taken

Check out some of our favorite summer photos below!

Staff Spotlight: Alejandra


Alejandra Saldaña

Community Support Specialist

Guest Writer: Matt Davies, Board of Directors

Alejandra Saldaña is living proof that Jubilee’s programs have a significant impact on the lives of those who participate in them. When she joined the Jubilee staff last year, it was truly a “homecoming.” Alejandra grew up in the neighborhood and, while she was a student at O. M. Roberts Elementary School, participated in Jubilee’s after-school programming. After O.M.R., she attended Uplift Peak Prep and continued to stay involved at Jubilee.

After Hurricane Katrina, she went on a mission trip to the New Orleans area sponsored by Jubilee, which highlighted for her how easily we may take things for granted, and the resiliency of the area residents in putting their lives back together after Katrina. Alejandra saw similar resiliency in her own neighborhood and from then on, she looked for ways to pursue her passion for community health and creating opportunity for families like hers.

Growing up, Alejandra played basketball and soccer, and ran cross country and track. After high school, she took a chance on an opportunity to head way out of her comfort zone—and into cooler weather—to attend Syracuse University in upstate New York. Her love for sports led her to pursue a degree in Health & Exercise Science, with a minor in Coaching, with plans for graduate school for physical therapy. She graduated from Syracuse in December 2017 and joined the team at Jubilee just three months later.

For her first year on the job as Community Outreach Associate, Alejandra worked with Community Outreach Manager Samantha Campbell to plan community socials, National Night Out, health expos and senior programming. Last summer, as summer programming limited space for senior programs “on campus,” Alejandra and Samantha piloted a program to visit seniors in their homes. This helped them to gain a deeper understanding of the types of programs that might be useful for seniors and bridge the service gap over the summer months.

In January of 2019, Alejandra transitioned to the position of Community Support Specialist, spearheading brand new programs born out of Jubilee’s recently completed strategic plan. She now leads the Family Empowerment Program, long-term case management, and emergency financial assistance programs, closing the opportunity gap in Southeast Dallas and building a pipeline of community leaders like herself.

Alejandra has found Jubilee to be a great place to grow as a young professional, and as part of a welcoming team. Having experienced Jubilee’s programs as a young woman, seeing behind the scenes as an employee has opened her eyes to everything that goes into making Jubilee’s programs a success. She is proud to be a part of an organization that creates success stories and changes peoples’ lives.

When Alejandra is not working with the Jubilee community, she spends time running at White Rock Lake and meditating. Her favorite movie is Love & Basketball (2000), and lately she has been binge watching Marvel movies with her two nephews. She often listens to one of her favorite songs, “September,” by Earth, Wind & Fire, to help her get motivated in the morning, and she loves her mom’s cooking!


Our Top 5 Take-Aways from Mayor Johnson's Inauguration Speech

Photo Credit: Office of Mayor Eric Johnson

Photo Credit: Office of Mayor Eric Johnson

Jubilee staff were honored to attend the inauguration of Mayor Eric Johnson, and couldn’t help but notice how his key points overlap with Jubilee’s pillars of impact and recent strategic plan. Here are our top five take-aways from Mayor Johnson’s inauguration speech:

  1. A focus on Opportunity. We couldn’t have agreed more when Mayor Johnson promised to make Dallas “a place where anybody can do anything.” As a result of our strategic plan, Jubilee has highlighted Opportunity as a crucial part of improving lives and strengthening community. Stay tuned for our unveiling of this new pillar!

  2. It takes a village to teach a child. Mayor Johnson calls on each of us to recognize that education requires more than just books and pencils— it takes holistic support and partnership between families, neighbors, and organizations.

    “We MUST build a Dallas where every child has the tools, including the love and support, they need to dream big dreams and to accomplish what might at first appear to be impossible.”

    That’s why Jubilee takes a whole-family approach to learning, and offers wrap-around services to fill in the gaps. Working together with our neighbors, we supplement each other’s strengths to build a better community.


3. Data + Transparency = Accountability. Jubilee has always found that data helps us align our programs with our neighbors’ needs and helps us measure a program’s return on investment. It also empowers us to report on where we’re succeeding and where we’re struggling. This keeps us accountable to our neighbors, volunteers, donors, and the public.

We were so glad to hear Mayor Johnson announce his passion for data-driven policymaking, stating that “we simply cannot afford to fund programs or initiatives whose effectiveness is not supported by data.”

Making that data available to the public means we share what’s working and what’s not. It’s an openness based on trust, respect, and mutual goals. As the Mayor put it, “we must provide a higher level of transparency and accountability to our residents if we truly want to Dallas to be a 21st century city.”

The 21st century is here, and Jubilee is ready. Check out our dashboard to see some of our recent measurements and next steps.

4. Education & Workforce go hand in hand. Jubilee has always had an emphasis on the education of children and adults, but after finalizing our strategic plan in 2018, we made Workforce a stated part of our key pillars of impact. The mayor is now appointing an Education & Workforce Czar to make our city the “Education and Workforce Capital of Texas.”

Not only are Jubilee and Mayor Johnson aligned on the need for affordable childcare and 21st-century workforce skills, we also identify the same partners in building this pipeline of equity and prosperity: strong public schools and a thriving community college district.

5. Safety is the foundation of a thriving city. Mayor Johnson promises to work with Police Chief Renee Hall, a friend and supporter of Jubilee, to reduce crime (an important part of Jubilee’s work in its 62-block area). He also seeks to build police-community relations, which is the foundation of Jubilee’s work in public safety. We love showcasing our relationship with Dallas Police because it’s a refreshing and inspiring vision of how communities can— and do— help keep their own neighborhoods safe. Jubilee Park is a long way from being perfect, but we are proud of our neighbors’ work to reduce violent crime and increase accountability among themselves and with officials.


To get involved at Jubilee or learn more about our holistic approach to community revitalization, email us at

2018 Agency Report: Did You See What You Made Possible?

Did you see that Jubilee published its second annual Agency Report in May? The results are amazing - and we couldn’t have done it without you!

The Agency Report is our way of giving the Jubilee Family a snapshot of the year, to catch you up on all the important decisions and celebrate the stories and successes that you make possible. You will find a synopsis of programs under each of Jubilee’s five key areas of impact: Safety, Health, Housing, Education & Workforce, and Opportunity. Check it out!

You will also find deeper dives into the exciting new opportunities identified in 2018. Learn more about Jubilee Park residents’ vision for the new property donated to Jubilee by the State Fair of Texas and read an awesome success story from our pilot Specialized Student Support (S3) Program last summer!

We hope that reading these stories and successes from last year make you proud of what you helped accomplish here in Jubilee Park. Help us recommit to our neighbors for 2019 and Join Jubilee this year to continue to build a thriving community in Southeast Dallas.

Afterschool Results Are In!

Thanks to our supporters, volunteers, staff, donors, and our rock star students, Jubilee’s Afterschool numbers are knocking our socks off!

This was the third year of our dual-location afterschool program— one at Jubilee, and one at Oran M. Roberts Elementary School. The addition of a second site has increased Jubilee’s afterschool capacity by 66%. So the question is: can we grow the quantity of our program while sustaining quality?

Results are in!

Updated June 7, 2019 to reflect the 2018-19 year

Updated June 7, 2019 to reflect the 2018-19 year

We’re so proud of these 248 children for the significant gains they’ve made over the past school year! Most children who are entering our program for the first time are about two years behind in math and reading— and without intervention, those gaps tend to grow over time. So it’s important that their afterschool time is utilized strategically, with lots of fun and hands-on activities to increase the skills they need most.

Shante McCoy-Shelley, Program Manager, with awards for Jubilee’s second certified location and top Community & Family Program.

Shante McCoy-Shelley, Program Manager, with awards for Jubilee’s second certified location and top Community & Family Program.

That’s not all! Jubilee’s afterschool program was also recognized by Dallas Afterschool as a top organization in Community & Family Programs, and our second location was recognized as a top-quality provider of afterschool enrichment. We are so proud of these awards and the whole team who made them possible!

Want to stay in the know about Jubilee’s education programs, recent work, and next steps? Follow us on social media, or subscribe to our newsletter below!

Meeting Seniors Where They Are

Jubilee is many things for many people. For 300 of our oldest neighbors, Jubilee is food security, access to medical care, a place to make friends, exposure to cultural sites across the city, a family that looks out for you, and a home away from home.

Senior arboretum.jpg

Last summer, in an effort to meet seniors where they are, Jubilee performed 21 home visits to gain important feedback about the existing program and any unmet needs of Jubilee seniors. We learned about their pressing need for home repairs, that they rely on Jubilee for food and nutrition, but the bottom line was that they love senior programs at Jubilee and they want more of them.

Senior Expansion graphic.PNG

The Jubilee family was quick to act by launching a Senior Home Repair Program (stay tuned for a blog post soon) and adding two additional hours of programming each week – nearly doubling the total program enrichment hours. Now every year, Jubilee seniors receive 1,900 hours of health and nutrition topics, safety classes, arts and culture activities, financial literacy workshops, field trips to Dallas institutions, and – of course – bingo!

Want to join in the fun? Sign up to volunteer with Jubilee senior programs and become a member of the Senior Brigade! Email  to get started.

Want to join in the fun? Sign up to volunteer with Jubilee senior programs and become a member of the Senior Brigade! Email to get started.

Jubilee On the Job

As you may have seen in our agency report, Jubilee is investing in Workforce and Opportunity programs for its 62-block neighborhood and the Southeast Dallas community.

Last fall, we piloted the first of three certificate programs designed to be accessible, quick, and tailored to middle-skill career paths available through nearby employers. Talk about reducing barriers to employment!

The first certificate program was in food handling for those interested in working in food or formalizing a food business. The class filled up almost immediately, and Jubilee has now hosted three cohorts of the program.


The next certificate was in private security, which was also completely full. Guest speakers from local security companies and the Deep Ellum Foundation visited to offer insight into security careers and practical advice for the field. Of course, our good friends at DPD were there to share how security experience could transfer into a job with Dallas Police!

“Thank you for connecting me with your safety and security program. I was very impressed and it was just what I need. I took criminal justice courses before, but this was more practical and inspiring. I can’t wait for Level III.” —Martin

Jubilee was also lucky enough to have volunteers host a Resume Workshop in our computer lab, offering tips on formatting, content, and phrasing. Thank you, Kara, for organizing this workshop using your corporate expertise!

Adult Student.png

So what about actual jobs? We know of at least four people who got interviews after the security certificate program, and at least one person got a job after the resume workshop (making $16 per hour, more than double her previous position)!

We’re excited for these new additions and we hope you’ll join us: could you be a guest speaker for our teens or adults? Could you help with our next interview or resume workshop? Would you take an hour a month to help someone practice their English skills? Email to let us know your interests and availability!

A Mid-Holiday Season Message

Did you see My Sweet Charity’s profile on Jubilee for the holiday season? As part of their My Sweet Wishlist, Jubilee CEO Ben Leal offered up his holiday wish: more support for middle-grade students. Read the full article here!

“It’s easy to celebrate the kindergartner learning to read, the toddlers on their stroller ride around Jubilee’s campus, our workforce graduation participants, or the sweet senior citizens whom we serve year-round, but one of the groups I’m most proud of at Jubilee is our middle-school kids.  They’re working hard during a tough time in life to navigate the “messy middle.”

“My wish this holiday season is that our middle-grade kids get the support they need to stay on track and make good choices about the kind of adult they want to become.”

You can help our middle-school students succeed by showing them the path through the messy middle.  There are lots of ways to make a difference: volunteering as a career speaker or homework helper, new art or sports supplies, or financial support of the program ($50 a week or $2,500 supports one student!).

Middle Schoolers pitch their business plan to a bank representative.

Middle Schoolers pitch their business plan to a bank representative.

As Jubilee explores how it can better support a pipeline of career- and college-readiness, these middle-school years are a crucial part of each child’s life-long success.

Erasing Years of Injustice... with your help

This just in: Jubilee is a catalyst in community revitalization, recognized in the Dallas Morning News as an important agent in Fair Park’s effort “to erase years of historical injustice.”

Dallas Morning News reports on Jubilee’s role as a catalyst for community-owned revitalization.

Dallas Morning News reports on Jubilee’s role as a catalyst for community-owned revitalization.

The article describes one section of the Jubilee neighborhood as

“a shade-tree slice of South Dallas where tumble-down homes, shuttered and smashed-up churches dating back to the 1950s and weed-covered concrete stoops and slabs serve as vestigial reminders of a formerly bustling neighborhood.”

Luckily, Jubilee is a catalyst for change in the neighborhood. It’s only natural that Fair Park would turn to Jubilee as it seeks to improve lives and strengthen community.

The article describes drug houses, prostitution, criminal activity, and neglect. It also reports the changes that have happened over the past few years, citing rising incomes and improved vitality.

“I can believe it,” Wilonsky writes. “Rotten bungalows have been replaced by new, affordable homes… owned by former renters. And Congo Street, the city’s narrowest thoroughfare, has since been paved, its houses architectural marvels.”

Dallas Morning News reporter Bob Wilonsky has seen the impact of Jubilee’s work with his own eyes.

Dallas Morning News reporter Bob Wilonsky has seen the impact of Jubilee’s work with his own eyes.

So what’s next for this slice of South Dallas? Can we set a new precedent for community-owned revitalization?

With your help, yes. Jubilee is already working with its neighbors to conduct needs assessments, listening sessions, and concerted outreach efforts to ensure its residents’ voices are heard. We know that Southeast Dallas is so much more than the evidence of past injustice— and can be great with the right opportunities to tap its incredible potential.

“There’s a lot of work to be done in Jubilee,” says Ben Leal, CEO.

As a critical resource for Southeast Dallas neighbors, Jubilee leverages your support to make a direct impact on the lives of thousands of neighbors. Your financial contribution, your volunteer support, and your attention to Jubilee’s work help make this award-winning work a model for children and families across the region.

Thank you for making a difference at Jubilee.

Join us in improving lives and strengthening community.

Check out the full article here.