Announcements News

Engage Dallas announces 16 new community partners

Engage Dallas is excited to announce our newest community partners as we continue our work to address community needs in South and West Dallas via SMU’s Residential Commons.

In Fall 2021, the Engage Dallas Offsite and Risk Management Committee noticed that as Engage Dallas grew, the needs of our students and community partners started to vary. Engage Dallas strives to facilitate a mutually beneficial relationship between the campus and SMU community. To ensure that community partners have volunteer support at various times and that students had opportunities to serve outside of their class schedules, the need to expand our network of community partners surfaced.

Audryanna Reed, Offsite and Risk Management Committee co-chair, shared “interviewing and onboarding new community partners has been an exciting process. Our new partners are energetic and are anticipating serving our students. I think expanding our number of community partners was a great idea so that our students can have consistent opportunities to serve throughout the community.”

Our community partners offer a combination of monthly, group volunteer opportunities and individual opportunities such as solo service, individual pathways, and internships for SMU students. Service opportunities for the spring semester will kick off in February 2022 with monthly, group service through the RC and solo service to support community partners with limited volunteer capacity.

Jin Ae, Volunteer and Operations Association for Readers 2 Leaders, noted that “Readers 2 Leaders is so grateful to partner with Engage Dallas and have SMU students serve with us to support student learning, especially during this challenging time. As an SMU Embrey Human Rights Program alumna, I am so inspired to see the university taking an active approach in connecting with and serving the Dallas community.”

SMU is excited to announce the following organizations as the Spring 2022 community partner cohort for Engage Dallas. Each Residential Commons is listed with its chosen community need and new partner(s).

Armstrong Commons | Homelessness

  • The Stewpot

Boaz Commons | Food Insecurity

  • CitySquare
  • Mission Oak Cliff

Cockrell-McIntosh Commons| College Access & Preparation

  • Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas

Crum Commons |Arts as Social Impact

  • Remembering Black Dallas
  • Bishop Arts Theater Center

Kathy Crow Commons | Environmental Injustice

  • Trinity River Audubon Center

Loyd Commons | STEM Education

  • Crowned Scholars
  • Jubilee Park

McElvaney Commons | Community Wellbeing

  • Brother Bill’s Helping Hands

Morrison-McGinnis Commons | Childhood Poverty

  • Vogel Alcove
  • Behind Every Door

Virginia-Snider Commons | Childhood Literacy

  • Readers 2 Leaders

Ware Commons | Community Rebuilding

  • Empowering the Masses
  • Frazier Revitalization

For more information on Engage Dallas partnerships, visit the Engage Dallas website. Inquiries by community organizations or suggestions for partnership can be submitted via the Engage Dallas Community Partner Information Form.


Announcements News

A timeline of some of the rich history of South and West Dallas now available

Engage Dallas proudly present Phase II of the Engage Dallas Resource Libraries. Our Engage Dallas Research Assistants, Shelby Peck and Cristal Mendez have done it again! Back in September we announced Phase I, which encompasses all common-specific social problems and offers a self-paced, deeper learning experience through four different categories.

Mendez, ‘22, a graduate student in the M.Ed. in Higher Education program shares that Phase II differs significantly from Phase I because the focus is truly just South and West Dallas so various local sources had to be researched, evaluated, and synthesized for the creation of Phase II while Phase I was a bit broader. Through this research opportunity, one valuable takeaway for Mendez was the importance of learning  about the history of her community, as she is a resident of West Dallas.

We invite you to journey with us through time. Phase II presents a chronological dive into the history of South and West Dallas. Our trip commences in the year 1865 and we progresses forward until we are back in 2021. We cover topics very familiar like the State Fair of Texas and maybe some that are less familiar, like the contributions of Felix H. Lozada, Jr. As you journey through the timeline, you will be able to read a short highlight about the event and then click into it to learn even more. You may also choose to “hop through history” and follow the timeline of specific events and see how they are connected through history.

Peck ‘21, an undergraduate student studying Public Policy and Political Science, found this research opportunity particularly valuable because she was given the freedom to dive deeper into many diverse subjects in Dallas history, painting a realistic picture of South and West Dallas history as a whole. She was able to draw connections between this research and her future career goals by studying how federal policies and court decisions, like Brown v. Board, were enacted in Dallas, and how individuals were uniquely affected by them.

If asked to leave you with one thought before your journey through time, it would be:

“Learning about the history of South and West Dallas can be difficult because of the inequities that have existed since the beginning. However, our West and South Dallas neighbors possess experiences, skills, and knowledge that contribute to their community’s cultural wealth. I hope you will be inspired by the community advocates that have shaped their communities.”  -Mendez ‘22

“Everywhere you look in Dallas there is a story that has been hidden by Dallas’ ever-changing and developing nature. If you look beyond the beautiful skyline and new construction, you will see even more beauty amongst the unique stories and histories of the individuals that shape our city.” -Peck ‘21

We invite you to spend some time unpacking local Dallas history. We acknowledge that history is steadily unfolding around us as more stories are being told and memories recollected. The resource library is not intended to discuss every historical occurrence of South and West Dallas, as much of their history is still being uncovered and collected. The resource library is a living source and will evolve as more history is discovered.

Get started exploring, here.

Announcements Event Kathy Crow Commons

#TBT: A thankful reflection

On November 19 the Kathy Crow Commons (KCC) Student Director, Lilly Chapman, led a group of KCC residents to the Hatcher Farms station in South Dallas to serve with Restorative Farms.

The group helped hand pick vegetables to pack in Thanksgiving meals packages that would be passed out to the local community for the upcoming holiday. Chapman shared that “this was impactful because it allowed me to realize the effect a little bit of TLC has on a community. These meals mattered to the community. While we were packing the bags, community members were still coming to sign up to receive Thanksgiving meals. It was nice to see something good happening in the community, versus the bad the media always presents.” 

Check out this feature from the Dallas Morning News on Restorative Farms: South Dallas urban farm brings locally grown Thanksgiving meal to families in need ( 

Announcements News Ware Commons

Ware Commons wins $1,000 donation to community partner, Rebuilding Together NTX, at Gamma Phi’s Moonball sand volleyball tournament

On October 23rd, the Ware Commons Volleyball team played in Gamma Phi’s Moonball sand volleyball tournament at the Dedman Rec Center’s sand volleyball courts. Moonball is SMU’s Gamma Phi Beta‘s signature philanthropy event where their chapter hosts either a kickball, volleyball, or basketball tournament each academic year to raise funds for their philanthropic partner, Girls on the Run.

After winning multiple games undefeated, Ware Commons took 1st place in the tournament, winning a $1,000 donation to a nonprofit of the team’s choice.

Ware Commons choose to donate the $1,000 prize to Rebuilding Together NTX, one of Ware’s nonprofit partners through Engage Dallas. Rebuilding Together is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization working to preserve affordable home ownership and revitalize communities with free home and facility repairs. In Dallas/Ft. Worth, Rebuilding Together has served since 2001 to make critical safety and accessibility improvements to more than 500 homes so their clients may live in safe and accessible homes.

Since the beginning of the partnership between Ware Commons and Rebuilding Together NTX in Fall 2020, Ware residents have already performed over 750 hours of service for Rebuilding Together. Most recently, residents replaced and repaired flooring for a veteran, widow neighbor in South Dallas.

Announcements Armstrong Commons Boaz Commons Cockrell-McIntosh Commons Crum Commons Kathy Crow Commons Loyd Commons McElvaney Commons MHPS Commons Morrison-McGinnis Commons News Virginia-Snider Commons Ware Commons

New diversity, equity, and inclusion-oriented trainings available to students

The Engage Dallas education and training team published 21 hours of new content for students on October 3. These supplemental online trainings aid SMU students in their understanding of the community-identified needs and are intended to increase their effectiveness when completing their community service in South and West Dallas.

Under the leadership of Audryanna Reed, former chair of the education and training committee and SMU’s Associate Director for High-Impact Practices, the team conceptualized, compiled, organized, and completed this ambitious project over the spring and summer terms.

Reed remarked, “Engage Dallas offers required and supplemental training courses to allow participants to better understand the Engage Dallas initiative and the diverse communities we serve. As we develop world changers, we think that it is important to provide direct and indirect learning opportunities for students, opportunities for students to identify the intersections between social problems, and intentional reflections to help students identify their role in creating sustainable solutions.”

These online, asynchronous supplemental trainings are now available to SMU students within the Engage Dallas Canvas Course. Students who complete these trainings will receive general engagement hours toward the Community Engagement proficiency and Experience.

One of the Engage Dallas initiative goals is to build capacity for social change in our local community. The education and training team intentionally curated and embedded diversity, equity, and inclusion resources from national leaders like the Smithsonian National Museum, state-level data, and materials publicly available from our Engage Dallas community partners.

Overall, these trainings build student capacity during their service through Engage Dallas. For instance, each Residential Commons has a social problem and now have a training to provide important foundational knowledge. These trainings, available to students in the Engage Dallas Canvas Course, help students understand the national impact of the social problem and utilize critical thinking skills to analyze how individuals, groups, non-profit organizations, and/or government entities can come together combat the social problem. These 11-Commons-specific trainings include:

  • Armstrong Commons- Homelessness
  • Boaz Commons- Food Insecurity
  • Cockrell McIntosh Commons- College Access & Preparation
  • Crum- Arts as Social Impact
  • Kathy Crow Commons- Environmental Injustice
  • LoydCommons- STEM Education
  • MHPS Commons-Immigration & Refugee Support
  • McElvaney Commons- Community Wellbeing
  • Morrison McGinnis Commons- Child Poverty
  • Virginia Snider Commons- Childhood Literacy
  • Ware- Community Rebuilding

In addition to the above social problem trainings, the education and training committee published trainings entitled:

  • Systems of Oppression
  • Community Building and Community Impact
  • Active Listening and Active Citizenship
  • Privilege and Social Identities
  • Social Justice
  • Race and Engage Dallas
  • Introduction to Community Engagement
  • Circle of Self

Students can always access these online supplemental trainings, but SMU students will also be able to attend in-person opportunities throughout the academic year to dialogue about topics like these. In-person training and education sessions are posted regularly on the Engage Dallas website.