The City of Dallas, Dallas Independent School District, Big Thought, and SMU’s Center of Research and Evaluation want to help stop the “summer slide.”
Together, the local organizations hosted a State of the Summer update dedicated to evaluating outcomes from the Dallas City of Learning program on Dec. 2.
With its more than 700 community partners, Dallas City of Learning—a citywide initiative that provides access to quality summer learning for low to no cost—serves an average of 76,500 DISD students during the months when school’s out. The public-private partnership ultimately aims to close the gap between those with access to valuable out-of-school resources and those without.
According to Big Thought, the Dallas City of Learning program manager, limited resource students have missed 6,000 more hours of learning than their more affluent peers by sixth grade. The two-to-four-month span during the summer is typically when those academic skills are lost.
So, in 2014, Dallas City of Learning was launched to connect all students with programs throughout Dallas-Fort Worth.
“It is our team’s privilege to work with more than 700 incredible partner organizations to break down barriers in program deserts, improving access to learning resources across the city,” Byron Sanders, CEO of Big Thought, said in a statement. “Nearly three million hours of programming were provided during the summer of 2019 and our students are responding very positively to their teachers and the curriculum.”
Dallas City of Learning’s summer 2019 summary
The State of the Summer event gave a look at this year’s results.
Dallas City of Learning in 2019 offered 2,735 programs, 95 percent of which were free for participants. A total of 68,303 students were served, which accumulated to a total of 2,993,300 cumulative hours of provided programming.
“Continuing to keep our students’ minds sharp over the summer months impacts their school performance and ultimately, their long-term prospects for academic success,” T.C. Broadnax, Dallas’ city manager, said in a statement. It was revealed that students participating more than 30 days at a time get the greatest impact. And, multi-year participation delivers the best outcomes.
Dr. Michael Hinojosa, superintendent of DISD, said Dallas City of Learning has helped create more equity for students living in areas with little to no enrichment activities. Over the past three years, the initiative has provided more than 7,300 summer learning programs—overall improving “attendance, GPAs, and STAAR scores.”
The summer 2019 impact report showed that with every 10 days of Dallas City of Learning, elementary school students are 25 percent more likely to pass STAAR math and 35 percent more likely to pass STAAR reading, and high school students are 40 percent more likely to pass End of Course English 1.
“As someone who was the first in her family to graduate from a four-year college, I know that it takes a village for us to move our children forward,” Cynt Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, said. Marshall was on a special guest panel at State of the Summer. “Dallas City of Learning is providing our children with a village that cares, teaches, and enriches. We should all support this program as an investment in our future workforce.”
Big Thought said the program is most impactful when partners offer long-term, consistent programming, so it’s currently looking to extend existing partnerships and recruit new ones for next summer.
State of the Summer also gave three awards to organizations that participated this past year.
The Neighbor’s Award went to Frazier Revitalization, a place-based nonprofit that acts as a catalyst for community revitalization, for being an outstanding partner that’s “uniquely community-focused and uplifting.” Its role in Dallas City of Learning was to build math and reading skills by using a social-emotional learning approach that counters effects caused by childhood trauma.
The Superintendent’s Award went to Bold Idea for being “uniquely innovative.” The education nonprofit helps North Texas students better prepare for careers in technology and engineering through computer science.
The Partner of the Year Award went to the Dallas Public Library, which has “demonstrated elevated levels of expertise year over year in how they impact access and dosage to high quality summer programming.” During 2019, the Dallas Public Library provided multiple programs for students and their families as part of Dallas City of Learning.
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