The 80 Percent: Texas Partnership for Out of School Time Highlights Big Thought’s Work

Texas Partnership for Out of School Time spoke with Erin Offord, Chief Programs & Systems Officer, about Big Thought’s work in out of school time spaces. You can read the full story here.

Big Thought began in 1987 as a non-profit focused on creating equitable arts education in Dallas-area schools. They worked in and with underserved communities to communicate the value of art and generate greater, more equitable access to it. As their understanding of these communities deepened, they also began to explore and influence systems, breaking down barriers to bring these programs and resources into communities where they did not previously exist. Youth and families in marginalized communities often believe that greatness is supposed to look, act, and be a certain way, but “…the truth is that greatness is in everyone,” says Erin Offord, Big Thought’s Chief Program and Learning Systems Officer. “And that belief is foundational in the work we do.”

Leaders also recognized OST’s potential for expanding these opportunities. “As time went on, it became a focus on the 80%—on the alternative-learning environment, after school and summer. And we have been living that way ever since,” says Offord. In 2004, they reorganized, taking the name Big Thought to reflect their broadened scope and vision. They would continue to provide direct delivery of programs and also develop learning systems that could support and be implemented by partner organizations.