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United to Learn Hosts Learning Launch

This unique back-to-school drive will benefit DISD students and teachers.



Photo courtesy United to Learn

Through August 16, United to Learn is hosting Learning Launch, an annual back-to-school drive that accelerates student learning by equipping teachers and students with critical teaching supplies not met by limited public school budgets.

Now in its third year, the drive focuses on 27 Dallas ISD schools located primarily in North Dallas. These schools represent 15,900 students, with nine out of 10 students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, along with 1,400 educators.

“Learning Launch isn’t your typical back-to-school drive,” says Abby Williams, founder and executive director of United to Learn. “We know that each of our teachers will personally spend up to $600 to provide these same items – classroom texts, writing journals and supplies, basic technology tools – when limited public school budgets can’t cover their needs. So we’re asking our neighbors to get involved, contribute to our Learning Launch and continue encouraging gains in literacy and learning.”

With many items under $50, Learning Launch is an easy and fun way to make a real impact.

Those interested in participating can visit the website to select one of three ways to help detailed below.

Make a Donation:
Make a cash donation, and U2L staff will purchase the most needed items for teachers’ classrooms and deliver them directly to the schools.

Shop Online for Classroom Resources:
Select and purchase items from the Top Classroom Needs list or buy items for a specific school. Choose the United to Learn Gift Registry as the shipping address to have items delivered to the U2L office (5310 Harvest Hill Road, Suite 190, Dallas, TX 75230) Monday through Friday, 9am to 4pm.

Buy Classroom Resources In-Store and Drop Off at United to Learn:
For those who would like to purchase items at Lakeshore Learning, Barnes & Noble or Office Depot stores, refer to the Top Classroom Needs list. By August 16, items should be dropped off at U2L’s office (5310 Harvest Hill Road, Suite 190, Dallas, TX 75230) Monday through Friday, 9am to 4pm.

Around + Beyond

Text to 9-1-1 is now Available in Plano

When it isn’t safe to call, texting is now an option.



The Public Safety Communications Department (Plano 9-1-1) has announced that  text to 9-1-1 has been implemented in Plano.

The ability to text messages will assist citizens who are hearing impaired, providing equal access to 9-1-1. It can also be used in circumstances where it is unsafe for the caller to physically make a voice call to 9-1-1. (Note: text to 9-1-1 is not available in every city.)

Here are a few important tips to remember when texting to 9-1-1:

  • SMS does not provide accurate location data. You must provide your location as soon as you text.
  • No photos or videos, only text.
  • No emoji’s.
  • No abbreviations, spell things out. Be clear.
  • Only text to 9-1-1 if you are unable to make a voice call.

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Around + Beyond

Top Ten U.S. Digital Cities

Only one north Texas city made into the top ten.



The City of Plano has been named a Top Ten U.S. Digital City by the Center for Digital Government.

Now in its 19th year, the annual survey recognizes cities using technology to challenge social challenges, enhance cybersecurity improve transparency and much more.

“Special congratulations go out to Plano, Texas, where the Technology Services Division established a governance board and process for vetting, prioritizing and managing over 320 technology projects and initiatives,” said Phil Bertolini, co-director for the Center for Digital Government. “In addition, through consolidation and infrastructure upgrades, Plano serves as a great example of how a city can leverage technology to increase performance and reduce costs.”

The City will be recognized for this achievement at an awards dinner held during the National League of Cities’ annual City Summit in San Antonio, November 20-23.

The top ten ranking cities in the 250,000 – 499,999 population category are:

1st City of Miami, FL
2nd City of Durham, NC
3rd City of Virginia Beach, VA
4th City of Wichita, KS
5th City of Kansas City, MO
5th City of Plano, TX
6th City of Madison, WI
7th City of Long Beach, CA
8th City of Henderson, NV
9th City of Chandler, AZ
10th City of Greensboro, NC
10th City of Riverside, CA

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Around + Beyond

McKinney National Airport Receives TxDOT Grant

$15 Million in state funding has been awarded for needed improvements.



The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has approved a grant of $15 million in state funds from its Aviation Facilities Grant Program for the McKinney National Airport. The funds will be used to extend the existing runway from its current length of 7,002 feet to 8,502 feet.

The first step of the process will be an environmental assessment, followed by design and construction. Construction will likely begin in late 2021.

“Today, business aircraft intending to operate out of McKinney must add congestion to one of the commercial service airports if their operations require additional runway length,” said Airport Director Ken Carley. “We are thrilled and extremely grateful to receive the funding for this project. It is evidence the state recognizes the contributions McKinney National Airport makes to the regional airport system and understands the importance of investing in the airport’s future. Extending the runway by 1,500 feet will benefit the entire DFW area by allowing the airport to more effectively serve its role as a reliever for the region’s commercial service airports.”

Grant funding from TxDOT requires an airport sponsor to contribute a minimum of 10 percent in matching funds. The McKinney City Council approved its matching funds to add to the project in September. TxDOT expects to provide approximately $60 million in funding for planning, constructing, and maintaining community airports this year. About 275 community airports in Texas are eligible for this grant.

Operational activity at the airport is projected to grow throughout the 20-year planning period with increased use by business jets needing longer runway lengths to accommodate heavier loads and longer stage lengths. The current Airport Master Plan recommends accomplishing the runway extension in the next five years to allow the airport unrestricted growth.

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