This past spring, in partnership with the Housing Unification Board and The Office of Engaged Learning, Engage Dallas hosted the second annual Big iDeas pitch event. Each Commons was tasked with creating and pitching an event aimed at supporting the needs of one of their Engage Dallas Community Partners with three Commons being awarded financial backing to carry out their pitch. For the first time ever, Mary Hay/Peyton/Shuttles Commons and McElvaney Commons tied for first place with each being awarded $3,000 and Boaz Commons was awarded $1,000 for placing third overall.
As a first-place winner, Mary Hay/Peyton/Shuttles Commons (MHPS) invited Heart House, an Engage Dallas Community Partner, to campus.
MHPS, who focuses on Immigration and Refugee Support as their social problem, used their award to facilitate an afternoon of fun at SMU. Outfitted in self-made tie-dye shirts, made with SMU students the week before, 35 Heart House students, ranging from ages 5-13, participated in activities such as a magic show, dance lessons, science experiments, and campus tours during their visit.
Engage Dallas Student Director, Cydney Curtis, worked with MHPS leadership to organize 33 volunteers who helped throughout the day. MHPS’s Faculty-in-Residence brought his family out to serve, and they led music and dancing throughout the day. Curtis shared, “It was a day of joy and volunteering, and I think that everyone had a really good time… It was a successful event that I believe impacted not only the kids but the residential community as a whole. As we can see from the success of this event, Engage Dallas has the capability to put on large-scale events like this. What it takes is dedication, a lot of advertising, proper communication with your non-profit, and perseverance. I could not have done this alone, but I am very proud to have put it on and to have made what I hope is a memorable weekend in the lives of the kids and the residents.”
McElvaney Commons used their $3,000, first place award to purchase two pallet jacks with built in scales for their Community Partner, Brother Bill’s Helping Hands. Brother Bill’s Helping Hand has been serving the West Dallas community for more than 75 years. Its core programs include a grocery store, where neighbors have access to healthy food, access to quality healthcare for the uninsured, and education programs that include English classes, computer courses and fitness programs. The new pallet jacks are able to help them process and sort donations quicker and with more ease.
To support the work of their Community Partner, CitySquare, Boaz Commons was able to purchase $1,000 of meat to stock CitySquare’s food pantry. CitySquare is a broad nonprofit organization that offers a comprehensive array of social services that address the four key areas related to the persistence of poverty: hunger, health, housing, and hope.
Boaz Commons Engage Dallas Student Director, Jonathan Liu, shared “CitySquare was an amazing experience. We were able to help restock CitySquare’s food pantry for the next week with the meat that we had brought the day before, as well as help restock produce for the next week”.
The Big iDeas pitch competition was a huge success this year and we cannot wait to see what new big ideas come out of next year’s competition.