After graduating from Texas A&M University, D&M Leasing CEO Micheal Albert “Mike” Hernandez III, now semi-retired, embarked on a career that has spanned more than three decades. A native of Brownsville, Texas, Mike Hernandez III has given back to his hometown over the years, and recently founded OP10.33 to advance his philanthropic efforts in the region.
Although Mr. Hernandez’ family moved to Dallas-Forth Worth while he was in high school, he always felt connected to Cameron County. After finding success in the auto leasing and real estate sectors, he returned to his hometown to find the community was struggling. Additionally, a study in 2013 named Brownsville the poorest city in the country. Determined to do something about it, Mr. Hernandez formed his organization in 2016, pledging to put $10 million toward programs in the area.
Among other efforts, OP10.33 came to the aid of Brownsville residents after a community member was diagnosed with Zika virus. At the time, county officials warned area residents about the dangers of mosquito bites and recommended using insect repellent whenever going outside.
However, many people in the area could not afford to buy insect repellent or did not have access to shopping areas where they could get it. Additionally, people who relied on food stamps were not allowed to use their benefits to purchase it. Recognizing the situation could quickly turn into a health crisis for the county, OP10.33 purchased and distributed insect repellent and informational material to individuals at local service centers and shelters.
A respected presence in the Dallas business community, Micheal “Mike” Hernandez III guides D & M Leasing as CEO. Now semi-retired, Mike Hernandez III supports a number of charitable initiatives in the Brownsville community, where he has family roots.
In 2016, Mr. Hernandez reemphasized his connection with a struggling part of Texas through the establishment of OP10.33, a nonprofit development group. A key impetus was that he could not see enough progress when it came to the overall economic environment of Brownsville and Cameron County.
He felt that there should be much higher growth, given the county’s location on the Gulf of Mexico and at a major border. This geographical proximity to conduits of international commerce should support a diversified and sustainable business community.
With his nonprofit group, Micheal Albert Hernandez III has an aim of transforming Cameron County into a region of opportunity by 2033. In addition to fostering business and local government collaboration, OP10.33 has the goal of improving social services for people who are underserved.
Texas A&M University
A Dallas-based philanthropist who is semi-retired from his role as the CEO of D & M Leasing, Michael Albert “Mike” Hernandez III supports his alma mater, Texas A&M University. His contribution of more than $1 million enabled the institution to start the Brownsville Scholars Program. Through the support of Mike Hernandez III, the university has opened its doors to first-generation college students from his hometown.
Brownsville, which is situated in South Texas, is among the poorest cities in the nation. Moreover, about 20 percent of the city’s eighth-grade students will graduate from college within six years of leaving high school.
One important component of the Brownsville Scholars Program is that it facilitates internships. The program invites local business leaders to offer internships at their companies with the goal of providing students with firsthand workplace experience.
In the current era, it is increasingly difficult for new college graduates to find well-paying jobs. Internships offer them the chance to gain job skills, build their resumes, and create strong networks of professional contacts. All of these efforts are particularly valuable to first-generation graduates and will give them a running start in the highly competitive job market.
Recent research shows that about two-thirds of students who have completed paid internships obtain employment offers after graduating. They also tend to earn significantly higher salaries than their entry-level peers who did not have similar opportunities.
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.
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.