By immersing SMU faculty, staff and students in The Budd Center’s partner communities, PreK-12 schools and nonprofit partners can expand their human and intellectual capital to better serve clients and strengthen their organizations. Equally as important, the SMU community becomes a learning partner through faculty research and teaching, student volunteerism and employment, and service-learning projects facilitated by The Budd Center.
One of our newest faculty engagements is Project CONNECT, a joint project between The Budd Center and the Simmons School, which was just awarded $2.5M by the Department of Education to develop teachers for English Language Learners. Rather than using traditional classroom settings, SMU Simmons faculty travel to West Dallas where they meet teachers at our nonprofit partners’ offices and train them while they are fully immersed in the culture of the West Dallas community.
So far this academic year, 62 SMU undergraduate and graduate students have volunteered or worked within our partner communities, and 72 PreK-12 students have visited SMU for immersive trips designed to introduce them to college life. To see a child’s eyes light up as they explore SMU’s campus or to hear elementary students share their business ideas with professors from our business school, is to see the landscape of their imagination widen. We know the college dream is choked early for too many students, so we’re intervening while that dream is still alive, and feeding it with everything from burgers to college knowledge.