The Budd Center: Involving Communities in Education

The School Zone

The School Zone – West Dallas (TSZ) is The Budd Center’s flagship project. It exists to ensure that West Dallas children have the educational tools they need to exit poverty as adults. 

TSZ is a collective impact partnership between 29 nonprofits, 16 public, private and charter schools, the Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) and two universities. It leverages the power of collaboration, scale and data-based decision making to target resources and programs to areas of greatest student need. Our initial focus is the Pinkston High School feeder pattern in West Dallas; however, TSZ is a scalable model for other communities.

The Opportunity

Strong Collaboration: Through TSZ, West Dallas’ many high-performing nonprofits work together to improve education and end the cycle of poverty. TSZ is also partnering with Dallas ISD’s Imagine 2020, which is piloting education transformation initiatives in three feeder patterns, including the Pinkston feeder pattern.

Integrated Data Platform: The School Zone’s nFocus data platform connects schools and nonprofits to shared student performance data. This system supports data-driven decision making and tracks student and community outcomes.

Research and Professional Support: Through The Budd Center, the Simmons School provides critical professional development, scholarship and student support to advance the objectives of TSZ and Imagine 2020.

Established Networks and Task Forces: TSZ’s networks and task forces deliver coordinated, targeted interventions along the entire West Dallas PK-12 cradle-to-career continuum.

The School Zone in Action

The School Zone is designed to leverage school and nonprofit collaboration to expand:

  • Nonprofit Functionality: Program support and data culture
  • PK-12 Student Success: In-school and out-of-school time
  • Early Childhood Education (0-3): Quality learning environments
  • SMU Partnerships: Research, professional development and engagement

Applied Research

A seven-year longitudinal study facilitated by The Budd Center and the Simmons School's Center on Research and Evaluation (CORE) is measuring TSZ’s impact on student academic success by following a cohort of 500 students from kindergarten through the first year of middle school.

Resource Management

The Budd Center’s Resource Management program bridges the data divide between school and community organizations. It partners high-capacity volunteers with schools and nonprofits to deliver comprehensive and targeted academic and social interventions for at-risk students, and it relies on technology to connect relevant data. Resource Management trains teachers and nonprofits in simple data use, while infrastructure supports data sharing, translation and assessment behind the scenes. 

During the 2013-14 school year, The Budd Center assessed 910 students from three West Dallas elementary schools, and 10 percent of those students received targeted support through the program. Additional students will be added until all schools are fully engaged.