Center on Communities and Education

Center on Communities and Education

Established in 2011, the Center on Communities and Education (CCE) joined the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development to create a model for collaborative partnerships designed to provide children from low-income communities with the educational tools and social/emotional resources to exit poverty as adults. The CCE’s mission is twofold:

  • To close the education gap in low-income communities by coordinating and targeting social services; facilitating the use of data to support academic success; providing professional development for teachers and school leaders; and
  • To engage SMU faculty and students in transformative leadership and learning experiences in the communities it serves

Partnering with West Dallas

The CCE has focused its work in West Dallas, where a range of social service agencies provides resources to its residents. Many of these agencies support children’s academic achievement and nurture their developmental skills. Others meet basic human needs in the form of housing, medical care and food and assist adults with literacy, job and parenting skills. To truly transform lives, however, real and lasting change must happen through education.

Before the CCE’s involvement, nonprofits in West Dallas recognized their limited coordination and communication with each other. Identifying the need for collaboration and the shared goal of improving academic outcomes, these agencies worked with the CCE to create The School Zone (TSZ). This integrated network, comprising 25+ nonprofits, 16 public, private and charter schools, the Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) and two universities, provides a safety net for students who live in poverty and keeps them on the path to college and careers.

As the backbone organization for The School Zone, the CCE will:

  • Build a shared vision and maintain responsibility for its short and long-term implementation
  • Collect and process student and school data and share the results with PK-12 and nonprofit partners
  • Provide resource management to connect schools, students and nonprofits to facilitate data-driven intervention and support
  • Develop and maintain a three to five-year strategic plan for The School Zone
  • Build public understanding and support for The School Zone and for education transformation