Announcements News

Engage Dallas launches for SMU students

Engage Dallas launched for SMU students on October 9. SMU students are now able to enroll in the initiative and complete getting started tasks to prepare for direct service experiences.

Erica Zamora, director of the Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement shared “we are grateful for the intentional work our student, faculty and staff implementation team for creating thoughtful and engaging content for students as they prepare for service in South and West Dallas.” Zamora mentioned the initial education and training sessions now available to students include an overview of the initiative, elements of personal reflection, and context building for service in Dallas.

Students wishing to enroll in the initiative can do so from the Engage Dallas website by following the getting started instructions.

A unique feature of Engage Dallas is SMU students are able to fulfill the Common Curriculum’s Community Engagement Proficiency and Experience requirement for graduation. Students can reach out to their Residential Commons’ Engage Dallas student director with questions or for assistance. 

Announcements News

Engage Dallas participates in Interdisciplinary Institute research cluster

During the 2020-21 academic year, the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute (DCII) is sponsoring 25 Research Clusters exploring a varied and exciting range of topics. Engage Dallas will be participating in a research cluster entitled “At the Intersection of Nonprofits, Higher Education and Community Engagement.”

Led by Drs. Sondra N. Barringer, B. Kathleen Gallagher, and Alicia C. Schortgen, the cluster seeks to focus on the intersection of nonprofits, public administration, higher education, and sociology. The research cluster seek to expand understanding of the relationships between higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations in the DFW metroplex.

Engage Dallas is “excited by the possibility of expanding our SMU network and what that can mean for informing our work in South and West Dallas”, said Dr. Dustin Grabsch. Grabsch is co-lead of Engage Dallas’ Assessment and Research sub-team. Engage Dallas implementation team members will participate in planned activities this academic year.

Planned activities include four working group meetings and a symposium with a guest speaker.

Announcements News

Engage Dallas receives Division of Student Affairs Innovation Grant

SMU DSA Strategic Plan Cover

Engage Dallas, the place-based community engagement initiative via SMU’s Residential Commons, received the 2020 Division of Student Affairs Innovation Grant. In the announcement email, vice president for Student Affairs Dr. K.C. Mmeje believes Engage Dallas advances the division’s commitment to innovating our work.

The Division of Student Affairs awarded a $25,000 investment in the Engage Dallas initiative. Dr. Dustin Grabsch, a key partner from Residence Life and Student Housing, reflected on the grant application stating, “We considered the proposal to be innovative, as only six institutions of higher learning currently employ place-based community engagement to our knowledge. Of these institutions, none operationalizes the model via a residential college system.” Engage Dallas offers a unique combination and timing of the initiative with University prioritization that made the proposal a promising contender for the grant.

Melinda Carlson, assistant vice president of Student Affairs and dean of Residence Life and Student Housing, remarked at the incredible potential to solidify the connection between the campus and Dallas communities. “Engage Dallas will bring high impact community engagement opportunities to our Residential Commons communities. Our residential student communities will be able to grow their sense of place in the larger Dallas community.” Carlson believes in the importance of students feeling a sense of connection and belonging to the neighborhood and community in which they live. “Students will learn and experience the importance of engagement with the broader community, a skill that is critical to being a World Changer”

Mmeje continued in his announcement email that each of our eleven Residential Commons will choose a social issue to address a community need in west or south Dallas. “Throughout the academic year each Commons will engage in education and thoughtful dialogue around their issue and the systemic causes helping us to move beyond voluntourism and into true community engagement. While COVID may not allow us to directly serve in communities right away, it does provide us an opportunity to prepare our students to be more informed citizens when the time comes. There is much that can be done virtually and through educational opportunities to set a strong foundation for improving the communities around us.” Student Affairs’ Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement is a key partner facilitating training, educations, and opportunities for students to learn about and address community needs.

Camille McCallum shared, “What I really admire about the Innovation Grant provided to Engage Dallas is how it embodies a commitment both to our students and our community. As the Initiative Manger, I have the privilege of supervising 11 talented student leaders who receive funding for the meaningful work they will do in the Residential Commons and in Dallas.” McCallum closed with saying the grant funding for student staff wages “sends a clear message that direct service is worthy of both SMU’s resources and time.”

Engage Dallas will begin offering service opportunities for residential students in October 2020 and SMU undergraduate students will be able to receive credit toward their Community Engagement Proficiency if they choose.




Announcements News

Engage Dallas team is ready to serve

Engage Dallas announces its implementation team for the 2020 – 2021 academic year.

Engage Dallas is an interoffice SMU initiative dedicated to cultivating community vitality. Dr. Dustin Grabsch, director of Academic Initiatives at SMU and one the core team for Engage Dallas, said, “We are honored by the opportunity to serve Dallas through this new university commitment which animates our mission – world changers are indeed shaped here. We’re excited to help build an initiative that will make our city proud, and that will build the belief that SMU is better because of the city we call home.”

The Engage Dallas initiative is a long-term, place-based community engagement initiative where students residing in eleven Residential Commons have avenues for service in south and west Dallas. Through these experiences, students complete education and training, reflections, and share their talents with community partners from around the city of Dallas.

Erica Zamora, director of the office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement and fellow core team member, remarked about the announcement, “Engage Dallas is launching at a key moment in our world’s history, a time when community need feels amplified due to COVID-19.” Zamora explained the initiative will be launching in the fall semester with education and training for students with direct service experiences likely beginning in spring semester.

The Engage Dallas team for the 2020-2021 academic year includes:

  • Staphany Lopez-Coronado, office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement
  • Dr. Caitlin Anderson, Hilltop Scholars Program
  • Matt Nadler, Residence Life & Student Housing
  • Audryanna Reed, Residence Life & Student Housing
  • Micah Johnson, Residence Life & Student Housing; office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement
  • Madison Mucci-Ferris, Residence Life & Student Housing
  • Dr. David Son, Chemistry; Residence Life & Student Housing
  • Dr. Dayna Oscherwitz, office of General Education
  • Jennifer Ebinger, office of Engaged Learning
  • Camille McCallum, office of Engaged Learning
  • Shelby Martin, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Residence Life & Student Housing
  • Ryan Leibowitz, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Residence Life & Student Housing
  • Erica Zamora, office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement
  • Dr. Dustin Grabsch, Residence Life & Student Housing

Zamora and Grabsch shared Engage Dallas student directors will be joining the team in the coming month to begin planning philanthropic and other indirect service opportunities for SMU students.