Kiara Dismuke has been at Big Thought for just over a year. Starting as a Project Manager for Dallas City of Learning last May and then a Program Manager for Thriving Minds After School, she now works as the Manager of Talent and Recruitment.
Kiara points to the opportunities she’s had to grow and learn as one of her favorite parts of working for Big Thought. “I’m all about growth,” she explained. “I believe the sky is the limit, and I like working for an organization that believes that too.”
In her current role, she’s in charge of recruiting new talent into the organization, and she’s leading the effort to collaborate with local colleges and universities to provide students with work-study opportunities at Big Thought. These opportunities will primarily be as site guides for Thriving Minds After School. Since 2011, Thriving Minds has been working to “strategically connect partners and resources across the city to address the specific educational needs of students and families.” The program continues to grow each year, with each program site tailored to the community to provide invaluable out-of-school enrichment to students.
Thriving Minds site guides provide direct assistance to the site coordinators at each school. They learn the ins and outs of the program, so that they can help ensure that things run smoothly and provide a safe, caring and enriching environment for children.
In addition to spearheading the work-study program, Kiara also leads information sessions every first Monday of the month. These sessions provide information about our various initiatives to individuals and organizations that are interested in working with Big Thought. From Dallas City of Learning to Thriving Minds to Creative Solutions, volunteers have plenty of options for where to invest their time and talents. These handy information sessions provide everything you need to make the best choice!
When asked about her absolute favorite part of working for Big Thought, Kiara says it’s “the community-orientedness of it all. Everybody here has a hand in doing great work for the community.”
Apply here to be a part of the great work being done at Big Thought.
Temperatures are rising into the triple digits. Days are getting longer. And students are holding their breath as the last minutes of the school year tick away. This can only mean one thing: summer is almost here.
As students walk out of their classrooms for summer break, it’s important that learning doesn’t stop. How students spend these summer months has a large impact on their health, safety, and academic performance. The inequity of opportunity during the summer can widen the achievement gap for low-income students, as they often face academic setbacks and a lack of access to healthy foods (Wallace Foundation).
However, high-quality summer learning programs can push these students ahead. Research from the National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment shows that “three to four consecutive summers of high-quality learning beginning in pre-kindergarten can get kids reading on grade level by third grade, making them four times more likely to graduate from high school” (Summer Learning). By keeping kids learning throughout the summer, we can ensure that they’re classroom-ready when they return to school in the fall.
While summer learning programs positively contribute to academic performance, they also provide an opportunity for students to dive into subjects that spark their interest. Engaging them in new and innovative ways, these programs meet kids where they’re at, allowing them to explore their interests hands-on. Summer camps and community events go beyond “drill-and-kill” instruction, so that the educational “experiences of summer… feel different for students” (Wallace Foundation). These programs do more than just prepare students for the next school year. They engage them in the lifelong process of learning.
DallasCityofLearning.org is a comprehensive online directory of affordable and no-cost summer programs to help children and youth explore their interests during out-of-school time. Create a free account and start exploring all of the fun and educational summer activities the city has to offer, including Coding, Robotics, Sports, Performing and Visual Arts, Science, and more.
Big Thought is presented with the Texas Medal of Arts Award for Art Education. Given by the Texas Cultural Trust, the TMA Awards celebrate Texans who have enriched the unique culture of Texas. (2013)
Big Thought celebrates its 25th anniversary. President/CEO, Gigi Antoni, co-authors More than the sum of its parts: Collaboration & Sustainability in Arts Education, with Thomas Wolf. (2012)
President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities selects Big Thought President/CEO Gigi Antoni as a “Champion of Change,” serving on a White House panel highlighting best practices in arts education. (2011)
The Wallace Foundation and RAND Corporation select Dallas & Big Thought’s Thriving Minds summer camp program to participate in a three-year longitudinal study on summer learning loss tracking the impact of comprehensive summer programs on the academic success of incoming fourth graders in six U.S. cities. (2011)
The trustees of Communities Foundation of Texas, who oversee the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation, award a $2-million challenge grant to Big Thought to build a coordinated system upon the framework of its out-of-school-time initiative, Thriving Minds. (2010)
The Wallace Foundation awards Big Thought an $8M grant to plan and implement a citywide creative learning system and renews its commitment with a four-year $4.3M gift to continue implementation. (2010, 2005)
The Texas Education Agency awards three five-year grants to manage Big Thought’s Thriving Minds After-School program in 33 Dallas ISD schools. (2010, 2009, 2008)
Americans for the Arts presents Big Thought with the Arts Education Award given annually to the organization identified as the best in arts education program design, execution, as well as leadership. (2009)
Big Thought is selected by the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee to design and execute the largest-ever youth-education program for the NFL in conjunction with Super Bowl XLV. (2009)
Big Thought publishes More Than Measuring outlining the organization’s philosophy and assessment. (2007)
The U.S. Department of Education awards a $1.1 million Model Development and Dissemination Grant to support Big Thought’s ArtsPartners National Model and provides an additional $1 million grant to train arts specialists as arts integration resources to strengthen the program. (2006, 2003)
Big Thought receives the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities Coming Up Taller Award. (2004)
The Ford Foundation awards Big Thought grants to develop a family learning and parent advocacy component as part of the Dallas ArtsPartners program (2003)
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