Inspiring Story: LIFT student survives, thrives after devastating loss of husband

The unexpected death of her husband made Gwendolyn a widow at 50-years-old and created an overwhelming challenge:  finding a way to earn an income and support her two children with limited literacy skills.  When Gwendolyn was younger, schools were totally different than they are now.  Students who did not “catch on” were laughed at and judged by the other students, and sometimes even the teachers.  Students were also pushed through to the next grade level even if they didn’t know how to read.

At LIFT, Gwendolyn found a much different learning environment than what she experienced in high school.  The teachers offered to stay after class or meet one-on-one if a student wasn’t understanding the material.  They also provided Gwendolyn and the other adult learners with their email addresses and phone numbers in case they had questions about the material after they got home. 

 “The teachers at LIFT take their time and give you extra help.  They stay after class with you and give you their contact information if you have questions,” she explained.  “No question is dumb.  They don’t make you feel like you are dumb.  Even though you have been told that your whole life, you know it’s not true.”

Importantly, there was no judgement or ridicule at LIFT.

“When I first came to LIFT, I was afraid because people judge other people who don’t know something,” explained Gwendolyn. “But the teachers didn’t judge me.  They could see that I was trying and told me that the learning wouldn’t all happen overnight.”

Gwendolyn is now in LIFT’s High School Equivalency (HSE) Prep program and thinking about her educational plans post-LIFT.  Her daughter and son are both in high school, and both A-Honor role students enrolled in AP classes.  Her kids tell her they are proud of her and want to take care of her when she is older. Gwendolyn has other plans. 

“I see all the commercials about people going to college and graduating, and I want that,” she said.  “My kids say they will take care of me, but I don’t want that.  I want to take care of myself.”

Since 1961, LIFT has provided thousands of adults like Gwendolyn with the supportive classroom environment and extra help they need to achieve their educational goals.  With your support, we can transform thousands of more lives.  Here is how you can help:

  • Make a donation to our 2018 Annual Fund Campaign before December 31, 2018.  Our goal is $25,000. Your donation of any amount will help provide LIFT’s adult learners with the support, programming and inspiration they need to achieve their educational goals and improve their lives. Click here to donate.
  • Spread the word.  If circumstances do not currently allow you to participate in our campaign through a donation, you can still help by spreading the word about LIFT.  Forward this email to your friends.  Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, and share our Annual Fund Campaign posts with your social media network.

LIFT Launches National GED Curricula


In August, LIFT launched Aztec Learning System curricula for its High School Equivalency (HSE) adult learners.  LIFT volunteer teachers and staff were trained on the new curricula over the summer in preparation for the fall semester.

The new curricula are aligned with state and national standards and ensure that LIFT’s adult learners have all the tools they need to be successful when completing Texas high school equivalency exams.  The curricula cover levels ranging from upper elementary through twelfth grade—Foundations, Pre-HSE, and GED Prep—and are deployed in an integrated classroom setting for the majority of LIFT students. 

The introduction of curricula that meet national and new state adult learning standards was accompanied by new registration processes to ensure adults are placed in the appropriate class level for both math and language arts.  Through generous funding from The Moody Foundation student workbooks are being developed to accompany the curricula. 

Thank you to all the donors who helped fund the new HSE curricula implementation, including:

  • The Moody Foundation
  • The Hillcrest Foundation
  • The Celanese Foundation
  • The Dollar General Literacy Foundation
  • The Rosemary Haggar Vaughan Family Foundation
  • Temple Emanu-El (Social Justice Council)

LIFT is grateful for all the generous donors who support the literacy programs at LIFT throughout the year.


Photos: (Left to Right) HSE Director Karen Medlock and HSE Coordinator Schneil Clark-Dunn train HSE volunteer teachers on the new Aztec Learning System Curricula.  HSE Students hear about the new curriculum during student orientation.

Get Involved With Toast to Literacy

Donations are still needed for the 6th annual Toast to Literacy auction on Friday, September 14th, 2018! Event tickets, gift cards, artwork, jewelry, and other luxury goods, services, & experiences are all welcome donations. Specifically, we are looking for a “Night Out in the Big D” raffle basket, which could contain tickets for dinner, a show, or other fun activities for adults. We also need donations for a “Family Night” raffle basket, which could contain movie tickets, games, food, and tickets for fun family experiences such as amusement and theme parks. If you choose to donate, you will not only be provided with a special marketing opportunity for your business name and services, but you also are helping to achieve LIFT’s goal of empowering many low-literate North Texas adults.

Toast to Literacy is one of LIFT’s largest funding sources and helps change the lives of thousands. Held at the Omni Dallas Hotel on September 14th, 2018, special guests will include Sharon Anderson Wright, President and CEO of Half Price Books, as the event co-chair, as well as Larry James, CEO of CitySquare, as the key-note speaker. Larry is best known as a social entrepreneur, servant leader, and most recently, the author of the book House Rules: Considerations for Leaders. Guests will be treated to dinner and dancing, and get to participate in a silent auction. This night out will be fun, informative, and will offer a unique opportunity to be a part of something bigger. For more information, please visit or, or contact Dan Thompson, LIFT’s Chief Development Officer at or 214-824-2000.

This article was written by Simran Misra, a girl scout from troop 2601 who spent a day job shadowing our marketing director Kate Hoffman.