Hi, Parents and Caregivers. Welcome to Big Thought!
You spend your days actively providing for your child’s needs, and your nights are filled with dreams for them. Your involvement in your child’s education and personal development is endless and irreplaceable.
Big Thought shares your vision, hopes and dreams and for more than 30 years we’ve worked diligently to level the playing field for all youth. We work to equip youth in marginalized communities to imagine and create their best lives and world. In partnership with parents, our programs are designed to help support learners build their creative muscle, develop social and emotional learning (SEL) skills and establish youth voice.
No two children are exactly alike. Every student learns and develops in their own unique way, and we believe that the opportunity gap will only be closed when we provide students with equitable opportunities to learn and develop in a way that is unique to them. When learning is personalized and students become co-designers of their own destiny, learners feel empowered to discover their passions and cultivate dreams.
If you are a parent or caregiver interested in the programs we offer, or your child is already participating in Big Thought programs, these resources are for you.
Our high impact programs are based upon experiential learning that allows your child to imagine, create and develop the skills needed to thrive today and in the future. We have programs for nearly every age of youth, we invite you to take a look to see which program is most fitting for your learner!
- Creative Solutions
- Dallas City of Learning (DCoL)
- The Fellowship Initiative
- Library Out Loud
- Thriving Minds
Supporting your learner, together
A child’s parent or caregiver plays the most crucial role in their educational and developmental journey. Your children love to have you ask them questions about their experiences which gives them opportunities to share what they’re learning. Your children love that you listen to the feelings and opinions they express, creating space for their growth.
At Big Thought, we encourage you to be involved in your child’s learning process. Building on the strong foundation provided by family and caregivers, we are allies in young peoples’ growth, helping to prepare them for further education, work and life. Partnering together allows us to support our learners more effectively.
Take a look at our FAQs to learn how to support your learner at Big Thought:
What is Big Thought?
BIG THOUGHT is a nonprofit that works to provide our learners with the skills and tools you need to imagine and create your best lives and a better world. We never want you to believe that greatness is supposed to look, act or be a certain way. Greatness is inside all of us and Big Thought wants to empower you to find that greatness.
What is social and emotional learning (SEL)?
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process of building the skills, knowledge and attitudes that students and adults need to be successful in school, work and life. SEL includes knowing and controlling your emotions, understanding and collaborating with others, making positive choices and demonstrating resiliency. SEL practices are embedded in every Big Thought program and learning system.
What is the Opportunity Gap?
Youth in marginalized communities, in Dallas and beyond, are often enrolled in schools that are historically under-resourced, leading to barriers in lab experiences, field trips and advanced placement opportunities. Additionally, youth in marginalized communities often lack access to high quality out of school time enrichment programs and opportunities. Coupled with complications in transportation, technology, family work schedules and lack of family resources, youth in marginalized communities have far fewer opportunities to learn and develop outside of school as compared to their more affluent peers. This is called the Opportunity Gap. Big Thought is dedicated to closing the Opportunity Gap.
Does it cost money to enroll my child in a Big Thought program or learning system?
Most of our programs are free of charge to our learners, though Thriving Minds and some Dallas City of Learning events may have minimal fees. Check specific program’s registration forms and information to learn more.
Our programs and services are designed to make imagination a part of everyday learning, through after-school, in-school and summer learning opportunities. Together, with our partners and supporters, we are able to give our youth access to these learning experiences.
What kinds of things will my child do in the program?
Specific activities will vary by program depending on each program’s core goals and participant age. As a whole, when youth participate in Big Thought programs, they use science, technology, art, music, writing and performances to exercise their creativity, express their emotions and opinions, and cultivate foundational skills for future success.
We know that youth learn best when they are able to roll up their sleeves and put ideas to practice. Big Thought programs are designed to be hands on and project based, ensuring that youth have the opportunity to have an active role in the learning process. We encourage learners to try, tinker, explore and create new things.
Please see details about each program outlined in each program section of our site.
Can my child participate in multiple programs at one time?
Yes! Many programs are offered simultaneously although they are independent programs. These include:
The Fellowship Initiative
For Dallas City of Learning, we encourage families to participate in as many opportunities as possible.
Who will instruct my child and how does Big Thought screen its team members?
Caring for your learner is a responsibility we take seriously. Our team is a passionate group of people who come to work each day inspired to empower youth and close the opportunity gap. We are leaders, artists, teachers, mentors, project managers, researchers, communicators, program designers and storytellers. We are experts at igniting imagination in young people, and we hire only the most skillful and highly trained individuals to work with our youth. Each of our instructors and coaches completes an application, multiple rounds of interviews and FBI background check. You can rest easy knowing your child is in good hands.
Learn more about a few of our instructors:
How does Big Thought help prepare my child for his/her future?
Big Thought is committed to helping your child get the resources that will best prepare them for college, a career, or any other path they dream of taking.
One of the foundational skills that is highly valued in the workplace is creativity. Creative individuals ask “why” and are able to think of new ideas and innovative ways of solving complex problems. Our programs are designed to develop the creative muscle by encouraging critical thinking, intellectual curiosity and continued learning.
Our programs are infused with social and emotional learning skills which ultimately help our learners develop empathy, build relationships, and become strong collaborators and communicators.
How does Big Thought work with my child’s school?
Big Thought has more than three decades of experience in working closely with both school district administrators and campus based administrators and staff.
For Thriving Minds, our site coordinators work hand-in-hand with campus administrators and staff to understand the specific needs of the school and their programming priorities. This collaboration allows us to provide programming and instruction that best aligns with the school’s goals and priorities. This might mean more extensive hands on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities, creative writing workshops or a focus on building literacy skills. Our site coordinators also work collaboratively with parents, campus administrators and counselors to understand the unique abilities of each student to ensure that we can provide specialized instruction to every learner.
For DaVerse Clubs, each Club is supported by a campus champion who is a teacher or counselor at that school. We provide training and support for the campus teams so they can adapt their club experiences to best meet the needs and priorities of each school.
My child has unique learning or physical abilities. Can Big Thought provide programming for my child?
Big Thought appreciates that no two learners are exactly alike and thus we appreciate the value of differentiated instruction.
Our Thriving Minds site coordinators work hand-in-hand with parents, campus administrators and school counselors to understand the unique needs of our learners so we can continue any specialized instruction into the after school and summer hours. For students with physical ability differences, we extend the time of the learner’s private care specialist into the afterschool hours to provide consistent support. Our staff are also trained in social emotional learning techniques and trauma-informed care, which helps to provide a supportive environment for learners with emotional or behavioral differences.
Our Artivism, Creative Solutions, DaVerse and The Fellowship Initiative, all of our staff receive specialized and extensive training in social and emotional learning and trauma-informed practices to enhance their skills in supporting learners with different emotional and behavioral needs. These programs can also support students with a variety of physical and learning abilities. Want to discuss a specific need or question? Contact Armando Banchs at [email protected] to find out how we can support your learner through Artivism, Creative Solutions, DaVerse and The Fellowship Initiative
Parents, if you have questions on how Big Thought can support your child or want to learn more about our programs, please feel free to reach out and contact us!
Dallas City of Learning
Private: Sergio Garcia
Director, Learning Systems
The Fellowship Initiative
Program Manager, The Fellowship Institute