Dallas City of Learning

Dade Student Finds Her Future Inside Mobile Tech XPerience

By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager

It was a pivotal day for 8th grader Asija Woodson. There she was stepping foot inside the Dallas City of Learning Mobile Tech XPerience, the retrofitted RV that’s a technology fountain of inspiration for middle and high school students. It was early August and 13-year-old Woodson participated in Dade Tech Day at Billy Earl Dade Middle School, a DCoL Turn Up! event organized by Big Thought.

She walked inside the MTXP and immediately went to work developing computer graphics, learning computer coding, programming Lego sumo wrestlers, experimenting with robotics.

For Woodson, these weren’t mere school day activities: “I felt optimistic because I feel like I can further myself into a career trying some of the things I did that day,” she says while sitting inside the Dade auditorium.

The MTXP proved influential, a rolling treasure chest of ideas for building a future. “I just thought about myself in regards to thinking of a major when I apply for college,” she says. “Robotics has a lot to do with me maybe pursuing a career in engineering.”

Woodson admits these recurring thoughts aren’t new. Her family is diligently encouraging her to go into that field. She was even in a robotics class while in elementary school. But being inside that RV was an epiphany. Suddenly, it all clicked.

“There is a difference between family telling me and actually doing it,” she says. “It has inspired me. This really makes a difference. I can see it now.“

Photo by Can Turkyilmaz @turk_studio

 

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Summer Thanks for Another Successful Dallas City of Learning Season

By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager

Summer isn’t officially over yet. That’s right, you can still wear shorts and flip-flops to the cool pool party. But kids are back in school and Dallas City of Learning is in wrap-up and assess mode.

So this is a huge thank you to our neighborhood partners, to the Dallas ISD Summer Achievers Academy, to another triumphant Creative Solutions summer program at Southern Methodist University, to great Library Live! programming, to so many engaged students, to the many community sites that opened their doors to children, and to the tireless Big Thought and Dallas City of Learning staff that hauled swag, laptops, banners, signage, and welcoming smiles. Big Thought, with the help and guidance of approximately 60 partners, delivered or supported programming at over 100 locations serving approximately 16,000 students.

The 2016 Dallas City of Learning program numbers are still trickling in and final tabulations are in calculation, but we do have preliminary estimates that already underscore an active and successful season for our kids:

  • 5 Turn Up! Events with 4,900 student participants
  • 42 Pop Up! and Mobile Tech XPerience Events with 2,500 student participants
  • 1,776 Dallas Summer Achievers Academy students at 8 sites
  • 80 students in our Creative Solutions summer program at Southern Methodist University
  • 36 sites for Turn Up!, Pop Up! and MXP Events
  • 46 sites in the DCoL Neighborhood Resource Initiative with 3,150 students served
  • 46 Neighborhood Partners
  • 29 Library Live! sites with 1,600 students served

We want to extend another shout-out of gratitude to our super dedicated neighborhood partners, many of which were spotlighted on our Big Thought and Dallas City of Learning websites. If you missed those spotlights, here’s a quick recap:

“Our participation in Dallas City of Learning is exposing our scholars to engaging robotics programs, radio and TV production, as well as enhancing their reading comprehension skills,” says KD Brown, Program Manager, Frazier Revitalization. Read the Frazier story.

“My vision for one aspect of the future of education is that it becomes a platform to support every child to be connected to quality after school programs and developmental experiences,” says Antoine Joyce, City Leader, All Stars Project of Dallas. Read the All Stars story.

“Summer learning is extremely important because it helps kids continue to work on their academic skills without missing a beat,” says Lori Carey, Community Engagement Manager at SPARK! Read the SPARK! story.

“Summer provides students a chance to explore interests and access opportunities that aren’t available in a classroom setting,” says Janet Morrison, Director, EAGLE Scholars. Read the EAGLE Scholars story.

“Our youth enjoy going to the DCoL website and finding ArtsVision programs on the site,” says Fran Jefferey Anderson, Artistic Director, ArtsVision Performing and Visual Arts Program. “They think it is cool that someone thinks enough of them to create something so ‘neat’ as DCoL.” Read the ArtsVision story.

“Summer learning is extremely important because it highlights the biggest tool we have to fight poverty – education!” says Reverend Donald Parish, Youth Pastor, True Lee Missionary Baptist Church. Read the True Lee story.

“Our vision and passion at Bishop’s Camp for the future of education is to teach the child as a whole,” says Jessica Bell, Program Director, Bishop’s Camp. Read the Bishop’s Camp story.

“Partnering with Dallas City of Learning enables us to reach a wider audience,” says JaMonica Washington, Youth Development Director, Lakewest Family YMCA, “and helps the teens find different things that may interest them from a variety of different activities.” Read the Lakewest YMCA story.

“Summer learning programs have the potential to help children and youth improve their academic learning and other outcomes,” says Keith Vinson, Vice President of Operations, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas. Read the Moorland and Oak Cliff YMCA story.

“The vision and passion for the future of education is to create lifelong conservationist and environmental stewards in every student,” says Shannon Linton, Youth Learning Supervisor, Dallas Zoo. Read the Dallas Zoo story.

“Dallas City of Learning is an ideal partner for Dallas Youth Poets,” says Joaquin Zihuatanejo, Founder, Dallas Youth Poets. “Together we can spread the word about each other’s movements. And both movements exist to empower youth.” Read the Dallas Youth Poets story.  

“Every child – every student – deserves an education that will prepare him or her for the future,” says Keith Mondy, Executive Director, Project Still I Rise.“ Read the Project Still I Rise story.

“Minds are like plants that need to be watered,” says Audrey Turner, Assistant Program Specialist, The Writer’s Garret. Read The Writer’s Garret story.

“We consider education to be an inalienable right and with it a surety of equal and equitable access for all children,” says Ronald Oliver, Director, Fine Arts Nth. Read the Fine Arts Nth story.

“The vision for Tackle Summer Slide is that students, families and communities have access to the knowledge, resources and opportunities to close the reading achievement gap,” says Jonathan Feinstein, Director of Community Engagement, Commit! Partnership. Read the Tackle Summer Slide story.

“My vision for education is to be able to get each child outside to experience the power of nature first hand,” says Kayleigh Medeiros, Education Manager, Trinity River Audubon Center. Read the TRAC story.

We thank our many Dallas City of Learning donors. For a complete list of DCoL donors, please visit bigthought.org/dallascityoflearning.

Photo by Can Turkyilmaz @turk_studio

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Dallas City of Learning Partners: Trinity River Audubon Center

Established: 2008 in Dallas.

About: Trinity River Audubon Center, located just 10 miles south of downtown Dallas, is your gateway to explore the amazing resources of the 6,000-acre Great Trinity Forest. As the largest urban hardwood forest in the United States, TRAC supports a diverse community of plant and animal species and contains a unique mixture of bottomland hardwoods, wetlands and grasslands. A part of the City of Dallas-Trinity River Corridor Project, the center’s 120 acres sit on a former illegal dumpsite, now a reclaimed haven for a vast array of birds and other wildlife in an increasingly urbanized metropolitan area. Five miles of trails lead visitors through hardwood forests, pond, wetland, and prairie ecosystems, and along the Trinity River.

Why is Summer Learning so Important?

“For numerous children, there is no communal place to go during the summer months for recreation activities,” says Kayleigh Medeiros, Education Manager, Trinity River Audubon Center. “Many children are confined to the indoors and do not have an opportunity to immerse themselves in the outside world. Our goal is to provide a safe space for children to come and explore their natural world. We facilitate lessons using nature to expand their horizons and break through any misconceptions they might have.”

Why Partner with Dallas City of Learning?

“We strive to provide children in our surrounding communities with outdoor education opportunities,” says Medeiros, “and by partnering with Dallas City of Learning, we have access to a majority of those students. This partnership allows us to reach all of those children and their families that we otherwise would have a difficult time communicating with.”

How Does Your Participation in Dallas City of Learning Benefit Trinity River Audubon Center Kids?

“Our mission at the Trinity River Audubon Center is to give everyone the opportunity to connect to nature and experience the outdoors,” says Medeiros. “By participating in this partnership, we’re hoping to reach communities that haven’t been out to visit us. We’re constantly looking to positively influence the people that call Dallas home, and Dallas City of Learning allows us to share our passions with others.”

What Is Your Vision And Passion For The Future Of Education?

“My vision for education is to be able to get each child outside to experience the power of nature first hand,” says Medeiros. “I want them to use the outdoors as a classroom with real world examples of curriculum like food webs, decomposition, pollution, and the scientific method. Not only would children become familiar with these topics, but we would encourage and empower students to creatively problem solve issues like pollution and habitat fragmentation.”

– Mario Tarradell

Photo by Can Turkyilmaz @turk_studio

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Dallas City of Learning Partners: Tackle Summer Slide

Established: Tackle Summer Slide began in summer 2015 seeded by the Commit! Partnership in the South Oak Cliff community.

About: Tackle Summer Slide is a collaborative effort to reverse summer reading loss by ensuring access to online curriculum, instruction from trained reading specialists, and learning incentives. Organizing partners include the Commit! Partnership, Dallas Afterschool, Dallas ISD, Istation, City of Dallas Park & Recreation, and Tackle Tomorrow.

Why is Summer Learning so Important?
“Only one in three 3rd graders (34%) in Dallas County are reading at a college-ready pace,” says Jonathan Feinstein, Director of Community Engagement, Commit! Partnership. “Nationally, low-income students experience an average summer learning loss in reading achievement of more than two months every year.”

Why Partner with Dallas City of Learning?
“Dallas City of Learning is a natural partner,” says Feinstein, “because both of our efforts are aimed at supporting our community with access to the resources and opportunities needed to help kids learn and develop during the summer.”

How Does Your Participation in Dallas City of Learning Benefit Tackle Summer Slide Kids?
“In partnership with 12 summer learning sites, Tackle Summer Slide reached 525 rising K-3 students,” says Feinstein. “Initial results from this summer show that 64% of participating kids did not experience summer slide and 48% either stayed on grade level or grew reading levels.”

“With the support of Dallas City of Learning, Tackle Summer Slide partners piloted a series of five parent workshops offered throughout the summer in an effort to ensure learning extends into the home,” Feinstein continues. “Fifty parents attended at least one workshop, and 100% of surveyed parents found that workshop information and activities are making a positive difference in their life. Staff from Commit!, Dallas Public Library, Tackle Tomorrow, and The Concilio served as workshop presenters.”

What is Your Vision and Passion for the Future of Education?
“Research shows that more than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities,” says Feinstein. “The vision for Tackle Summer Slide is that students, families and communities have access to the knowledge, resources and opportunities to close the reading achievement gap.”

– Mario Tarradell

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Dallas City of Learning Partners: Fine Arts Nth

Established: Summer of 2012

About: Fine Arts Nth directors Ronald Oliver and Biola Rotibi believe that education is fundamental to the survival of a society and empowers one to advance or move forward and this can be enhanced by integration, technology and the fine arts. Community and culture preserves history, identity, and sets up the social structure for nurturing and thriving. Therapy is also essential to the body, mind and spirit, and it brings wholeness, healing and restoration. Finally, entrepreneurship and leadership build the capacity to serve, implementing a vision and discovering a vocational calling that empowers financial freedom, stewardship, mentorship and investing.

Why is Summer Learning so Important?
“Mr. Rotibi and I strongly believe in summer learning opportunities for children,” says Oliver. “Instructional practices offered during the summer model the best possible outcomes for student success based on STEAM curriculum. This invaluable accessibility through DCoL is pivotal for partners such as Fine Arts Nth.”

Why Partner with Dallas City of Learning?
“Fine Arts Nth feels DCoL offers a viable, accessible, and sustainable conduit for all children to have meaningful academic engagement via the digital XP’s and the local XP’s,” says Oliver. “Basically, DCoL is assisting in leveling the academic, enrichment, and social-emotional playing fields for the children of Dallas.”

How Does Your Participation In Dallas City of Learning Benefit Fine Arts Nth Kids?
“Fine Arts Nth (FAN) Collaboration, as well as our partnership with Dallas City of Learning, affords us the opportunity to impact the children of Dallas academically, socially, emotionally, and creatively,” says Oliver. “DCoL provides Fine Arts Nth a broad digital platform for student engagement and access. Without DCoL’s digital website, Fine Arts Nth’s capacity to engage with the children of Dallas would be considerably less.”

What Is Your Vision and Passion for the Future of Education?
“Our vision for the future of education is considerably more complex than anything we could offer in a short answer format,” says Oliver. “We consider education to be an inalienable right and with it a surety of equal and equitable access for all children. Honestly, if Dallas City of Learning along with its many partners comes close to creating and sustaining such educational equity, we’ve done a great service with our given charge.”

– Mario Tarradell

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Dallas City of Learning Partners: The Writer’s Garret

Established: 1994 in Dallas, Texas.

About: The Writer’s Garret fosters the education and development of readers, writers, and audiences by putting them in touch with each other, with quality literature, and with the communities where they live and write. Through community events, outreach projects, and professional development programs, The Writer’s Garret builds a pool of readers and writers passionate about the development and dissemination of literature, reading, and writing. Other paramount goals include: educate our young to understand, appreciate, and support the impact of literature, reading, and writing; provide opportunities for the education and betterment of individuals and communities through enhanced reading and writing skills that cultivate an appreciation of quality literature and critical thinking; enable wide and equal access to the stories, letters, and cultural ideas that underscore and challenge our most recognized and cherished ideologies; and strengthen the infrastructure of educational, literary, and cultural partnerships capable of furthering the impact of literature, reading, and writing.

Why is Summer Learning so Important?
“Minds are like plants that need to be watered,” says Audrey Turner, Assistant Program Specialist, The Writer’s Garret. “Summer learning is important because it helps students continue intellectual growth through experiential learning. These learning opportunities are often in places new to students, with strangers who become friends. Students are provided outlets to explore their interests without the pressures of the classroom or the routine of the school year. Summer learning upsets still air in students’ souls by watering their minds.”

Why Partner with Dallas City of Learning?
“The Writer’s Garret is expanding its reach to be more connected to a digitalized world,” says Turner. “Partnering with Dallas City of Learning is a way to build relationships with our community and offer enrichment opportunities that can be accessed at a student’s convenience. In addition, this partnership allows The Writer’s Garret to be part of a greater network of learning and exposes us to new frontiers of education so we can better serve our students.”

How Does Your Participation in Dallas City of Learning Benefit The Writer’s Garret Kids?
“Participating in Dallas City of Learning allows The Writer’s Garret to offer innovative resources to students,” says Turner. “Through its Local XPs, students are introduced to new views of literature and writing with others who share their passions. True creative expression is not bound by steadfast rules, and Dallas City of Learning provides a great platform to break out of the box! The engagement of students across a digital format allowing them to decide what and how they learn is a great way to not only teach, but also to show students how they can teach themselves. Digital XPs allow for students to be their own instructors, and provide an empowering sense of agency often missing in the traditional student-teacher relationship. Plants able to find creative ways of reaching sunlight are the ones who bloom most vibrant. Our participation with Dallas City of Learning will cause interest in writing to bloom into lifelong passion.”

What is your vision and passion for the future of education?
“The Writer’s Garret envisions a future in which quality education is accessible for all,” says Turner. “It fills the gap often left when classrooms are unable to offer creative outlets for students, and believes that education lives in experiences. Our passions are to help students find words for these experiences, instill confidence to know that someone is listening to their words, and to give them the tools to make themselves heard.”

– Mario Tarradell

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