Out-of-School Time

#ThisIsBigThought – Meet Kiara

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By, Carson Bolding

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.


Big Thought#ThisIsBigThought – Meet Kiara

Summer is Coming

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By, Carson Bolding

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.

 summer learning programs positively contribute to academic performance

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 ThoughtSummer is Coming