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.
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 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.
Based in Dallas, Micheal Albert Hernandez III serves as CEO of D & M Leasing and has enabled thousands of customers nationwide to achieve car ownership. Mike Hernandez III also supports a number of civil and social efforts in Brownsville, an economically underserved community on Texas’ Gulf Coast. In early 2016, he launched the group OP 10.33 with high-profile billboards and slogans such as “We want jobs … now!”
The strongly positive message underscored a transformative agenda of reaching out to young people and providing them with pathways to higher education. Mike Hernandez III is also leading the group in taking aim at official corruption and providing assistance in areas not covered by social services. Another goal involves seeking out business investment that drives employment growth in the local community.
A major impetus for the organization came after extensive research revealed that significant amounts of money earmarked for the city never found their way to actual recipients. A core mandate of OP 10.33 is to act as a political action group and support those candidates that find common cause with its goals.
Mike Hernandez III is a respected Dallas business executive who has led D & M Leasing for two decades and provided affordable automotive solutions. With a family background in Brownsville, Mike Hernandez III focuses his many philanthropic efforts on supporting the higher education aspirations of local students and recently established the political action committee OP10.33.
Featured in the Brownsville Herald in June 2016, Micheal Albert Hernandez III spoke of this long-held desire to give back to the community where he was born and spent much of his childhood. He has an aim of raising $10 million over the next decade toward efforts to improve economic opportunity and job availability in a region where “not enough has changed.”
He finds particular value in the city’s location on a border by the sea, and finds it difficult to grasp where the community took a wrong direction, economically, to the point where Brownsville was ranked as America’s poorest city by the Houston Chronicle in 2013. Upon reflection, his assessment is that there are no villains in this. Rather, local agencies “work in silos” and do not share a common, collaborative vision for the county.