Since 1988, Trinity River Mission has paid attention to academic advancement of underprivileged youth in West Dallas. This volunteer-based center provides resources such as homework help and tutoring, volunteer opportunities, and free nutritious meals.
At 6 years old, Rosaerlinda Cisneros saw it as a safe place for her and her two older brothers. Cisneros and her siblings grew up in West Dallas and attended public schools in Dallas ISD. They were raised by a single mother with limited English, so TRM’s homework help and tutoring came in handy. In middle school, she participated in Believe & Achieve, the organization’s scholarship program that pairs students with mentors to encourage valuable skills and expose them to post-secondary education.
TRM CEO Dolores Sosa Green was paired with Cisneros as her mentor. The Dallas native joined TRM in 2005 with a passion for disadvantaged youth because she was once in their shoes.
“Some of the challenges that they face, I faced when I was growing up,” Green said. “Nobody expected me to even bother to graduate from high school. I thought this would be a great place to tell these kids, ‘Hey! I made it. You can make it.’”
Through her guidance, Texas A&M University was placed on Cisneros’ radar. She took a campus visit and fell in love.
“I wasn’t in the top ten percent of my class, but I was in the top 25,” Cisneros said.
Cisneros then turned to Green, a proud Aggie. As her mentor, Green refused to let Cisneros not try for something that she obviously wanted. They worked on college essays, FAFSA applications, and SAT prep.
Cisneros now has a bachelor’s degree in environmental geoscience.
“It was so great having somebody to believe in me and support me through it,” said Cisneros. “I was the first in my family to go to a four-year university.”
Cisneros’ story is what TRM is all about. To date, the organization serves 561 kids, providing them the tools necessary to help them realize their potential.
“There’s a need here, and we’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s not the zip code itself; it’s the circumstances,” Green said. “The majority of our kids’ likelihood of graduating from high school is a lot less than them going off to prison. That’s what we’re trying to prevent.”
- June 7: Mission Possible celebration — each participating high school graduate is awarded a college scholarship
- June 10: Moms on a Mission lunch fundraiser
- June 19: Juneteenth Walk to Destiny
In 2004, 100 percent of the students in TRM’s programs graduated high school. Since then, they average a 98-percent graduation rate with an increase in post-secondary enrollment. Green hopes to continue to grow the number of students and the programs that are implemented. TRM is forming a partnership with UNT Dallas to offer dual-credit courses. Professors will appear onsite to offer courses.
Cisneros now volunteers her free time to mentoring two students whose shoes she was once in.
“They’ve done so much for me, so I want to give back,” Cisneros said.