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Giving All Children a Chance with Educational First Steps

Educational First Steps has served low-income neighborhoods of North Texas for nearly 30 years by transforming daycare centers in these neighborhoods into nationally accredited early learning centers. Now serving more than 1,000 preschools and daycare centers in 24 school districts, Educational First Steps is focused on neighborhoods with high “concentrations of poverty where quality early childhood centers are scarce or non-existent.”

Educational First Steps is a critical organization in North Texas. As much as 85 percent of human brain development takes place during the child’s first three years—it is during this time that children “flourish when they are exposed to language, books, diverse experiences and developmentally appropriate learning.” With childhood poverty in our region expected to double in the next 25 years, our community must step up now and get involved ensuring a quality early education for all children.

As a member of the EFS Fort Worth advisory council, I had the privilege of serving as emcee for the Educational First Steps Fort Worth luncheon on April 25. It was truly an honor to introduce keynote speaker, Caylin Moore.

Growing up in Compton, California, the trajectory of Caylin’s life was not positive. By all rights, he should be “dead, in prison or stalking the streets of Compton with his fellow gang members,” according to his biography. Instead he is a “Rhodes Scholar, author, speaker and role model for every kid deprived of hope in downtrodden communities.” It was education that led to his exodus from one of the country’s most impoverished, gang-infested communities.

Educational First Steps is close to my heart and inline with the mission of “Portia’s Children” to improve the lives of underprivileged children and those of single-parent homes. To learn more about this organization, visit

About the Author

Michelle Connell, CFA is the President and Owner of Portia Capital Management, LLC., the only registered investment management firm in the Dallas/Fort Worth area owned by a female Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). The CFA designation is considered the highest designation in the investment management profession, and fewer than three percent of all CFAs in Texas are women. Ms. Connell is also one of highest-rated finance professors in the United States, currently serving as an adjunct professor at The University of Texas and instructing CFA candidates through the CFA DFW Society. For her clients — including the underserved markets charities, foundations and high-net worth women — Ms. Connell crafts personalized solutions that include conventional products as well as rare access to alternative assets, including private equity, private debt and real estate, and allows investment portfolio creation with greater downside protection and more consistent returns. Through her philanthropic initiative, “Portia’s Children,” 10 percent of the firm’s profits are donated to charities working to improve the lives of children of single-parent homes.

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