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UT Elementary School Fundraising Dinner a Huge Success

From Pre-K to PhD: Visualize the Forty (Four) Acres
Little Longhorns String Project
Pat Oles shakes hands with Evan Smith, event emcee, before providing the UTES appeal

On Monday, April 3, The University of Texas Elementary School (UTES) held its “From Pre-K to PhD: Visualize the Forty (Four) Acres” fundraising dinner.

In total, close to 300 people attended the event which raised nearly $200,000 for UTES. Fundraising included 17 Graduation Society pledges, which are five-year (or more) commitments that help to ensure that as many UTES graduates as possible have the opportunity to reach their full potential and go on to earn both their high school and college degrees.

The event was emceed by Evan Smith, the CEO and co-founder of The Texas Tribune  and featured performances by the Little Longhorn String Project. Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement, Dr. Gregory Vincent provided welcome remarks and attendees also heard from Dr. Melissa Chavez, Associate Vice President and Superintendent of The University of Texas Charter School System and alumni testimonials from Francisco Guajardo, a 9th grader at Austin High School and Alexis Blackman, a first-year engineering student at UT Austin and the first Little Longhorn to attend “the big UT.” A video showcasing the impact of UTES was also premiered.

During the event, Dr. Chavez awarded the Dan Burck Visionary Award, in honor of the late UT System Chancellor who was instrumental in getting UTES off the ground and was responsible for making sure UTES had the land it currently sits on at East 6th and Robert Martinez Jr. Streets. The award was presented to Dr. Ed Sharpe, who Dr. Chavez referred to as “the godfather” of UTES. Dr. Sharpe serves as co-chair of the UTES management board and has attended each board meeting in the school’s 14-year existence – 140 in all. This is in addition to every 5th grade graduation as well as hundreds of special events and admission lotteries. Pat Oles (pictured above), Chair of the UTES Development Council closed out the program with an appeal to give to UTES.

Thanks to everyone who came out to support UTES with a special thanks to honorary co-chairs Ms. Penny Burck and Ms. Julie Oles as well as the entire event host committee. Thanks are also due to the event sponsors: Chevron, HEB and Twin Liquors. Because of their generosity, every dollar raised was able to go directly toward UTES programming.


Dr. Ed Sharpe receives Dan Burck Visionary Award from Ms. Penny Burck and Dr. Melissa Chavez.
Little Longhorns String Project
UTES alumni Alexis Blackman
Dr. Vincent with UT Charter School System Superintendent Dr. Melissa Chavez and Jeannie Klein