Ideally timed for Black History Month, a screening will be held Thursday tracking the life story of Taylor Toynes—who was raised in southern Dallas, earned a degree at SMU and a master’s at the University of North Texas, and returned to his roots to teach fourth graders before co-founding a nonprofit to help transform Oak Cliff.
Toynes has strived to do this as co-founder and executive director of For Oak Cliff, a nonprofit that aims to increase social mobility and social capital in the sprawling neighborhood through the pillars of education, advocacy, community-building, and the arts.
Last year, Dallas Innovates told you about the docu-short film series “Black CEOs, In Their Own Words,” created by filmmakers Scott Faris and Meg Griffiths of L.A.-based Universe Creative. The series highlights three Black nonprofit leaders who have risen to executive-level roles, overcoming many obstacles in their paths as they strived to empower transformational change in their communities. The docu-series was captured primarily in Dallas over three years with the partnership of participants, their families, and their colleagues.
Part of The Dallas Foundation’s Voices of Hope initiative
The three documentary shorts are part of The Dallas Foundation’s Voices of Hope initiative. The first two films had a public screening in January 2023 at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Cedars, telling the stories of Kimberly Williams, CEO of Dallas-based Interfaith Family Services, and Byron Sanders, CEO of the Dallas-based nonprofit Big Thought.
The third film, which tells the life story of Taylor Toynes, will be screened this Thursday, February 8, at 6 p.m. at the historic Texas Theater in Oak Cliff. It details Toynes’ life from childhood to transformational Dallas nonprofit co-founder. The three films and screening were made possible by The George & Fay Young Foundation in partnership with The Dallas Foundation.
Inspired by his experiences teaching fourth grade in Oak Cliff
For Oak Cliff was born out of Toynes’ experience as a fourth-grade teacher at Oak Cliff’s W.W. Bushman Elementary School. Toynes saw that most of his students didn’t have school supplies, which Toynes realized stemmed from the community’s extreme poverty. Now he’s working to turn For Oak Cliff into a positive force for change in that same community.
The documentary short film explores the struggles and successes that have empowered Toynes to lead “with authenticity and purpose.”
The three documentary shorts have been honored by the Webby Awards, the Telly Awards, Hollywood Shortsfest, DC Shorts International Film Festival, Texas Short Film Festival, and NY Indie Short Film Festival.
You can RSVP for a seat at the Thursday screening here.
You can learn more about For Oak Cliff here.
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