Brownsville Scholars Program
Michael Albert “Mike” Hernandez III, now semi-retired as the principal of D & M Leasing in Dallas, remains connected to his South Texas roots. An active philanthropist and community leader, Mike Hernandez supports a range of efforts to improve the lives of people in the Brownsville area where he grew up.
Among these is the Brownsville Scholars Program through the Texas A&M University Foundation. Mr. Hernandez started the program with a donation of more than $1 million in 2016. Funds are designated to provide four-year tuition at the university’s College Station campus for Brownsville-area students with demonstrated financial hardships.
At the conclusion of the program’s first year, inspiring student stories emerged. One of the new Brownsville Scholars chose to go into medicine because she had witnessed how family and friends in her community had to seek care in Mexico because of the high cost of health care in the United States. Now a biomedical student, this scholar hopes to become a pediatrician and work with the children of Brownsville. Another student, majoring in sports management, wants to work with underserved youth through coaching Brownsville sports teams. Both these students are typical of Brownsville Scholarship recipients in that they are the first in their families to attend college.
Cameron County Educational Initiative
Brownsville, Texas, native Micheal “Mike” Albert Hernandez III is an active philanthropist and the CEO of D&M Leasing in Dallas. Now semiretired, Mike Hernandez III dedicates much of his time to local charitable and civic causes, such as the Cameron County Educational Initiative (CCEI).
Dedicated to providing affordable education and career training to residents of Cameron County, CCEI operates on a debt-free model that allows students to take charge of their future without incurring a significant financial burden. CCEI offers a number of educational services, including GED prep, adult literacy courses, and ESL classes at no cost to students.
In addition, vocational classes in information technology, industrial trades, and allied health give students the necessary resources to earn professional certifications. CCEI students currently have the opportunity to become certified as medical assistants or electronic health records technicians, and in the future, the center plans to add career paths for machinists, welding specialists, and operators of computer-controlled machine tools.
Since purchasing a stake in Dallas-based D&M Leasing in 1990, Michael “Mike” Hernandez III has served as the company’s chief executive officer. Now semi-retired, Mike Hernandez III focuses on philanthropic activities in his native Brownsville, in addition to supporting the Greater Dallas Legal Foundation (GDLCDF), which provides legal assistance to the underserved via its team of private attorneys.
Beyond its direct legal aid, the GDLCDF operates a range of community initiatives, including New System Enterprise (NSE), for which it is awaiting funding. An experimental program that engages corporate entities with the aim of alleviating hunger and poverty, NSE helps those in need find work in addition to providing valued services to the entities it partners with.
The program’s first step is the formation of an organic animal feed cooperative, which it will operate alongside the Brownsville airport authority. Cooperative participants will harvest the brush, cactus, grass, and trees at the airport to create organic animal feed.
Additionally, the program will create a gasoline supply cooperative, with the aim of fuelling the vehicles required to operate the animal feed cooperative, in addition to vehicles required for labor and retail sales. The initiative will include a food processing plant, which will harvest vegetables and several animal meats.
St. Vincent de Paul Society
A native of Brownsville, Texas, Micheal “Mike” Albert Hernandez III works as the chief executive officer of D&M Leasing in Dallas. Away from work, Mike Hernandez III supports several charitable initiatives, including the St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVP), a faith-based organization that provides help and hope to those in need.
SVP operates on seven key values:
1. Christ as the center. The recognition and acceptance that Jesus Christ is present everywhere.
2. Respect. In acknowledging that all people are created equal, SVP maintains the dignity of those it supports.
3. Compassion. A nonjudgmental approach to its work ensures SVP volunteers demonstrate compassion at all times.
4. Responsiveness. SVP remains alerted to the ever-evolving needs of the communities it supports, enabling it to respond accordingly.
5. Generosity. Volunteers must give of their possessions, resources, and time in service of the less fortunate.
6. Confidentiality. SVP respects the privacy of those it serves while understanding that the well-being of vulnerable people is the main priority.
7. Accountability. SVP volunteers understand their own skills and knowledge, which helps ensure accountability for their actions.
St. Vincent de Paul Society
A veteran business leader who has served Dallas-based D & M Leasing since 1984, Michael “Mike” Albert Hernandez III now focuses primarily on philanthropic activities in the Brownsville area. Among the organizations Mike Hernandez III supports is the St. Vincent de Paul Society, a collective of Christian volunteers committed to doing what they can to help those in need.
The society’s visiting and befriending program is a key part of its efforts. Volunteers provide their time and personal care to the ill and elderly, building trusting relationships with those who would otherwise struggle to confront issues such as loneliness and depression. Visits are often as simple as providing somebody with a friendly person to chat with, though volunteer support often extends to helping others conduct a range of activities, such as decorating, shopping, and filling out important forms.
A select group of society volunteers also become prison visitors, which may involve visiting prisoners directly or providing child-care services to family members who wish to visit someone in prison.
Mike Hernandez III
Based in Dallas, Mike Hernandez III has guided D & M Leasing for more than two decades and built up one of America’s largest and most successful vehicle leasing companies. Mike Hernandez III currently focuses much of his efforts on the Brownsville economic and social development-focused nonprofit, OP10.33, which he established in early 2016.
Speaking about the political action committee with the Brownsville Herald in 2016, Micheal Albert Hernandez III spoke of having a broad emphasis on improving social services through offerings encompassing computer, Internet, and alternative health care access for low-income residents.
Another focus is on kickstarting activities that revitalize Brownsville’s historic downtown. One project that was under consideration involved restoring the Hotel El Jardin, although that lacks financial feasibility at the present. Not seeking to be a “kingmaker,” Mr. Hernandez described his PAC as providing support for local political candidates who share the same progressive aim as his organization. He has also established a major scholarship program in tandem with the Texas A&M Foundation aimed at students from underrepresented backgrounds.