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Announcements Community Partners Event News

Engage Dallas Hosts 3rd Community Partner Council Meeting

Engage Dallas kicked off the 3rd quarter Community Partner Council meeting on February 9 at Austin Street Center. Organizations represented include Sunny South Community Garden, Keep Dallas Beautiful, LNESC, The Senior Source, Dallas Furniture Bank, Brother Bill’s Helping Hands, Jubilee Park & Community Center, and Austin Street Center. Community partners offered feedback on upcoming Engage Dallas events to ensure that they are community-centered and a value-add to all attendees.

The group learned about non-profit leadership and collaboration from Austin Street Center’s CEO, Daniel Roby. Roby also shared about the ways that Austin Street Center supports those experiencing homelessness. The day was completed with a tour of the newly opened center where community partners explored the commercial kitchen, donation drop-off process, dining facility & engagement center, and more. Community partners also learned about the many volunteer opportunities at Austin Street Center. Huge thanks to Jill Young, Volunteer & Community Engagement Manager, for coordinating the visit. Learn more about Austin Street Center here.

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Announcements Event

Engage Dallas Book Club Starting this Spring

Join us this spring as we launch the Engage Dallas book club. We will be reading and discussing Paved a Way by Collin Yarbrough. This book takes a deeper look at the influence of and injustices caused by the way the city of Dallas was built and developed, and the implications this has across the country.

The bookclub will be virtual, and will be held on the last Friday of each month, February through May, from 10:30am-12:30pm. The first twenty people to sign up will receive a complimentary copy of the book.

This is an opportunity to gather with others who are working toward successful community engagement and to improve the city of Dallas, and to continue the conversations that began at Engage Dallas’ Place-Based Community Engagement Symposium in November.

Click here for more information and to sign up to join us for the Engage Dallas book club.

We would also like to invite you to save the date for the 3rd Annual Place-Based Community Engagement Symposium, happening on October 3-4, 2024.

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Announcements Community Partners Kathy Crow Commons MHPS Commons Reflections

Winding Down 2023 with Engage Dallas

SMU students volunteering at Readers2Leaders

As the fall semester comes to a close, we would like to take a moment to reflect and celebrate. Students have participated in a variety of service projects this semester, serving a total of 1,519 hours, 986 of them being direct service hours in the community. Students had the opportunity to serve with a range of our community partners from After8toEducate to Empowering the Masse to Genesis Benefit Thrift Store and many more.

We heard from a couple of our first-year Engage Dallas Student Directors as they shared what they enjoyed. Hannah Green, our Student Director for Mary Hay Peyton Shuttles Commons, says, “Being an Engage Dallas Student Director has been such a growth experience for me. I love having the responsibility of planning and organizing events that other students can participate in.” When asked about the challenges she faced, she responded, “I think the most challenging part of having this position is the logistical responsibility along with the potential changes in plans that you might have to work around. Considering this, I think one thing that I have learned to develop is a solution-focused mindset.” 

Miles Chen is our student director for Kathy Crow Commons. He said he enjoyed, “… working with our community partners and learning more about what’s going on in the city. It was also really fun getting to serve alongside other SMU students.” A challenge for Miles was “…getting enough students to attend the service events, so I hope more students will learn about and get involved with Engage Dallas next semester! I also hope students will get to see service as less of a requirement, and more of something fun and impactful that they have the opportunity to do!”

Students serving at Austin Street Center for #1Day4Dallas

If you’re looking to get connected this spring, consider participating in an Alternative Break trip, where you can volunteer during spring break and fulfill your Community Engagement and Civics & Individual Ethics Proficiencies and Experiences to graduate. We have trips going out to Austin, Texarkana, and McAllen. We also offer Solo Service where students can serve with our community partners on an individual basis. We thank everyone who participated this semester and look forward to working with you next semester!

Finally, if you’ve ever considered planning and leading service trips like Hannah and Miles, consider applying to be an Engage Dallas Student Director for the 2024-2025 school year. Applications open January 22.

Make sure to follow us on Instagram @smu.engage.dallas to stay connected! 

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Announcements Event News

2nd Annual Place-Based Community Engagement Symposium a success

The 2nd Annual Place-based Community Engagement Symposium was a success last week. Participants engaged around the theme of “Listening, Learning, and Leading: A Place-based Approach to Promoting Public Responsibility and Community Engagement in a COVID-impacted World.” 114 registered for the two-day symposium.

The conference planning committee chose this theme due to their observation of the challenges posed by COVID-19; our community engagement landscape has evolved significantly, from decreased volunteer participation to heightened community needs.

Conference registrants helped shape this year’s symposium. The planning committee had over 60 questions submitted for our opening session and panel discussion. Plus, questions were arranged as discussion topics at the networking event on Thursday evening.

Audryanna Reed, Associate Director for High-Impact Practices, Co-initiative Manager of Engage Dallas, and Chair of the conference planning committee, shared, “Engage Dallas is grateful for the opportunity to bring together non-profit and civic leaders in Dallas as well as staff and faculty across SMU and Dallas College. Such inspiring words, cultural context, and critical challenges posed by our keynotes Latosha Bruff and Jerry L. Hawkins, M.Ed., as well as our panelists and workshop hosts!”

A copy of the program booklet is included below.

Reed and the conference planning committee are underway with year three planning. Building off the dialogue from this year’s conference, the theme will likely incorporate the concept of “under-championed communities,” which was prevalent in this year’s sessions. Reed says to expect a save the date soon for the November 2024 symposium.

This Engage Dallas symposium collaborated with Residence Life & Student Housing, The Budd CenterThe Office of General Education, the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility, and The Center for Teaching Excellence.

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Announcements Boaz Commons Cockrell-McIntosh Commons Community Partners Event McElvaney Commons MHPS Commons News Reflections

Big iDeas from SMU Students

The 2023 Big iDeas Case Study Competition, hosted by the Housing Unification Board in collaboration with the Office of Engaged Learning and Engage Dallas, was a resounding success with four student projects receiving funding to support a community engagement event with one of their Commons’ Engage Dallas Community Partners. This year a total of $6,500 was allocated to the four winning Commons to implement their pitched events. 

Cockrell-McIntosh Commons received $500 to create college preparation baskets for the students of LNESC who are planning to start college in the fall. SMU students dropped off baskets filled with dorm and basic school supplies as gifts to the students who were attending LNESC’s College Signing Day event. 

Boaz Commons received $1,000 to support the planting of a fig orchard on site with their Community Partner, Our Saviour Community Garden. Boaz was able to purchase a tiller to help with preparing the plots to plant the trees. Nine students attended the planting event where they helped to plant the trees and set irrigation to ensure that the plants would flourish.

Boaz Commons Residents with tiller bought for Our Saviour Community Garden
Boaz Commons Residents with tiller bought for Our Saviour Community Garden.

McElvaney Commons was awarded $2,000 to support Brother Bill’s Helping Hand (BBHH) with implementing their Neighbors Day event. McElvaney was able to sponsor the health and fitness stage where local neighbors were able to attend free Zumba and fitness classes during the event. SMU students served with BBHH staff to help manage the event and ensure that all neighbors had a fun and healthy experience. 

Mary Hay, Peyton, Shuttles (MHPS) Commons took home the grand prize of $3,000 to implement their “Storytime!” event with their community partner, Heart House. MHPS residents led Heart House students in a lesson on one of four stories: Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Coco, and The Little Mermaid. All students got to take home a copy of their book along with a craft that corresponded with their particular story. Manju Warrier, Director of Teaching Programs at Heart House, shared that their “students had so much fun touring the campus, participating in the activities, and interacting with SMU students. We are so grateful for our partnership with Engage Dallas and are excited for future partnership opportunities.”This was the second year that MHPS was able to partner with Heart House to bring students to campus and Student Director, Ruhani Ahluwalia, hopes that the partnership will continue next year. 

Heart House students posing on campus with MHPS Commons residents on campus tour of SMU.
Heart House students posing on campus with MHPS Commons residents on campus tour of SMU.

Engage Dallas would like to, once again, extend their deepest thanks to the Housing Unification Board and the Office of Engaged Learning for a wonderful event. We cannot wait to see what amazing events are dreamed up for next year’s event!