Manara Academy District Awarded a Grant from Texas A&M Center on Disability and Development

Work-Based Learning Project Will Benefit Special Education High School Students

IRVING, Texas, Feb. 2, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Manara Academy District, a charter school with campuses in Irving and Arlington, is the recipient of a grant awarded by the Texas A&M Center on Disability and Development to develop a work-based learning project for special education students ages 14-21. According to Manara Academy superintendent Denise Sudan, a $10,000 grant was secured to fund a mobile café on the Irving campus that will allow students to experience valuable life skills and on-the-job training.

“We are incredibly pleased to receive this funding that will play a pivotal role in supporting our students,” said Sudan. “Project-based learning opens up new avenues for inclusive education, providing unique opportunities for every student to thrive. With this grant, we can enhance our commitment to personalized and impactful education, ensuring that every student, regardless of ability, can actively participate and benefit from real-world experiences. This investment not only strengthens our educational programs but also reinforces our dedication to creating an inclusive and empowering learning environment for all.”

According to Manara District’s grant coordinator Chams Chamri, funds will cover the cost of equipment and stock for a coffee and espresso bar at the Irving high school campus. Students will apply to participate in the program and will learn all aspects of operating a café by exclusively serving faculty and staff. Responsibilities will include taking orders, conducting monetary transactions, and interacting with staff. The day-to-day operation of the café will provide students with the opportunity to enhance language skills, social interactions, and practice essential mathematical and accounting principles for daily living.

“We are thrilled to offer authentic work experiences to our special education scholars who are not part of a vocational program or moving on to college,” explained Chamri. “In addition, the program is designed for those with autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, health impairments, and specific learning disabilities.

Sudan added the mobile café is expected to open during the current school year, depending on when funds are received. She said students will start with the coffee and espresso bar model but may expand with pastries and food with donations from the local community. Graduates of the program will receive comprehensive support and job placement assistance to help them with future endeavors.

“We are looking forward to seeing our scholars develop important life skills such as decision-making, time management, and problem-solving through their experiences with this work-based learning project,” Sudan added.

With the district office located at 8113 Ridgepoint Drive, Suite 202 in Irving, Manara Academy District is a top-rated, public charter school district with three campuses: Arlington STEM Academy, Irving Elementary and Learning Academy in Irving. As one of the most diverse schools in Texas, the district has a Superior “A” rating from Charter FIRST and a “B” rating from the Texas Education Association. For more information about enrollment, career opportunities, or school programs, visit

Contact: Rhonda Price
(561) 371-9407

SOURCE Manara Academy District