Community Bus Tour Reflection

On June 28th, 2024, Engage Dallas hosted a bus tour to celebrate the end of the spring book club featuring Paved A Way by Collin Yarbrough. The tour highlighted historically significant sites around Dallas, many which are discussed in the book. This tour allowed participants to gain a deeper understanding of how the histories of environmental and infrastructural racism have profoundly impacted the city of Dallas, particularly Black and Latinx communities.

Community leaders, faculty, and staff gathered for a comprehensive journey through significant historical sites in South and West Dallas. One notable stop was Freedman’s Cemetery, located off the Central Expressway. Established in 1861, this cemetery is a crucial historical site for understanding Dallas’s early African American community and is among the largest of its kind in the country.

Another highlight was stopping by the town of Joppa, founded in 1872. This community, one of the last remaining Freedman towns in Texas, has faced severe marginalization over the years, yet remains a poignant reminder of resilience and perseverance.

Throughout the tour, guests gained profound insights into the struggles and triumphs of Dallas’s African American population, deepening their understanding of the city’s complex racial history and the ongoing efforts to achieve justice and equality.

At the conclusion of the tour, community partners, faculty, and staff,  gathered for a reflection session over lunch. This culminating event gave participants an opportunity to share their insights and discuss the profound impact of understanding environmental racism within their local community. The conversation emphasized the significance of recognizing how historical and present-day environmental racism affects organizations and society. Participants deliberated on actionable steps to foster unity and drive positive change, reinforcing the commitment to building a more inclusive and equitable future for all.


Engage Dallas 2023-2024 End-of-Year Report

After months of recaps, reflections, and writing, Engage Dallas is excited to present the 2023-2024 end-of-year report. Inside you will learn about the new elements added to Engage Dallas this year ranging from the inaugural Engage Dallas Bus Tour to the launch of the Community Partner Council, the Engage Dallas Book Club, and more! Volunteers collectively served more than 1,600 hours directly in the community this year. Check out the full report below.

Thank you for your continued support of Engage Dallas. There are many exciting fall activities in the works…stay connected and stay engaged!


Engage Dallas publishes second end-of-the-year report

Engage Dallas is excited to share our second end-of-year report.

From the inaugural Place-Based Community Engagement Symposium to our first Alternative Spring Break trip and our research on the impact of community engagement programs on non-profit partners, hear about this year’s achievements and our plans for the next academic year.

A unique feature of this year’s report includes several video reflections from Engage Dallas participants. This year, students served over 3,000 hours through the initiative with our 36 community partners. Take a closer look!

Thank you for your continued support of the initiative! Stay tuned for all that 2023-2024 has in store.

Reflections Uncategorized

In the Rear View Mirror: A Fall 2022 Semester Recap

Fall 2022 was an exciting semester for Engage Dallas! We hosted 50 events resulting in 1,408 total hours served in the Fall semester, with 8 students earning their Community Engagement Proficiency & Experiences (CEPE) through Engage Dallas. Let’s reflect on some of the highlights from this semester. 

September – Boaz Commons’ Service with CitySquare 

On September 17th, students from Boaz Commons volunteered with CitySquare to restock their food pantry. Students helped load carts of ready-to-go meals from North Texas Food Bank for CitySquare’s mobile food pantry and helped restock the freezers and refrigerators with frozen meats to prepare for the neighbors that would visit the food pantry.  

Last year, CitySquare’s food pantry supplied 2.5 million pounds of food to 11,700 neighbors who utilize their services.  

October – McElvaney Commons’ Service with Genesis Women’s Shelter  

Engage Dallas Student Director for McElvaney Commons, Sabeen Baledina, partnered with 6 other McElvaney residents to volunteer at Genesis Women’s Shelter. They packed donated items into trucks, organized clothing, accessories, and shoes, re-racked items, and sorted new donations. 

When reflecting on the Direct Service event, Sabeen shared, “We were there for 2 hours and made some real progress! Although we were all separated, we all still felt really good afterward. One thing that I really liked was learning so much more about Genesis’ Mission. When we first walked in, Nicole gave us a run-through of what Genesis is all about and how their mission can associate with a thrift shop.” 

100% of all proceeds from their thrift stores go directly to Genesis’ other services for survivors of domestic violence. All of Genesis’ clients can shop at the Thrift Store at no cost. This is incredible because each client can pick out what they need for their unique situation – furniture for a new apartment, interview attire, or new shoes. 

November – Ware and Boaz Commons’ Service with Our Saviour Community Garden 

Ware and Boaz Commons collaborated to host a direct service event at Our Saviour Community Garden. Volunteers were split into two groups: one group weeded two garden beds, and the other group helped load wheelbarrows and wheeled them to different areas around the garden. Volunteers made walkable paths to the garden beds and around different trees throughout the garden with woodchips to prepare for the upcoming season.   

The student volunteers and the Student Directors enjoyed getting to help Our Saviour Community Garden prepare for their next planting season and make the garden a more beautiful place. 

December – 8 Community Engagement Proficiency & Experiences (CEPE) Earned 

In December, Engage Dallas celebrated 8 Mustangs who completed their CEPE through participation in Engage Dallas. Each student completed at least 20 hours of service. Engage Dallas is one of the most widely available opportunities to earn the CEPE required for graduation. Students who consistently volunteer with Engage Dallas could potentially earn their CEPE in one semester! Learn more about getting involved with Engage Dallas here 

General Engagement Event – We Are All Homeless with Armstrong Commons 

The Engage Dallas Student Director for Armstrong Commons, Kelsey D’Esopo, collaborated with the We Are All Homeless organization to host a general engagement event. Kelsey shared the following on this collaboration “I had a great time working with Willie to help him plan and prepare an event that he holds so near and dear. It was another great way to see the impact we as students can have on the community and world around us, despite many of us thinking that we can’t really insight change.” 

Solo Service – Nicole with RowDallas 

Solo service provides an opportunity for SMU students to volunteer on their own schedule and to support unique individual volunteer opportunities. Learn more about solo service here. 

SMU student, Nicole Sood, shared the following about her experience with RowDallas, “I have really been loving my service with RowDallas! The kids are fantastic and extremely bright! The team for RowDallas is also great. They didn’t have anyone to emphasize the Computer Science aspect of their program, so I’ve been lucky enough to put together some basic programming projects for the students and really get them excited about learning C++!”. 

RowDallas makes rowing more accessible to Dallas youth, helping students to succeed on and off the water. They teach students to push themselves beyond the ordinary and discover what they are capable of when they work as a team. 

The Engage Dallas Team is beyond proud of the leadership of our Student Directors and grateful to have served alongside so many world-changing Mustangs this fall. We want to thank the 485 student volunteers who served with us and congratulate the 8 students who earned their CEPE credit. To continue engaging with us, please follow us on Instagram @smu.engage.dallas and bookmark the Engage Dallas Event Calander to stay updated with our upcoming events. To learn more about the initiative, visit the Engage Dallas website.