West and South Dallas
The identified geographic area for Engage Dallas spans the areas of West and South Dallas. This area was chosen because of the amount of existing relationships with community organizations in the defined zones. West and South Dallas have been identified as areas of need within the greater Dallas community by SMU through other previous initiatives, and the focus of all of the community agencies identified will serve constituents in this area. For example, while the North Texas Food Bank might have a new warehouse location in Plano, we know that it serves families and people in the West and South Dallas areas. Not all of the direct and indirect service opportunities will take place in west and south Dallas, but each opportunity will benefit the defined geographic region.
Identified Community Need
Each Residential Commons has selected a social issue (unique to that community) based on SCIE’s knowledge of community-identified needs that exist in our defined geographic area of service. Social issues range from food insecurity to homelessness to health to education.
This community need focus will create lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with nonprofit and community organizations in Dallas. By working with one specific community need over time per Commons, SMU will be able to establish short-term support structures and long-term commitment to specific organizations and areas.
Additionally, students will have the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of their community need, as well as a sense of place and connection to Dallas and the geographic areas selected for our place-based community engagement.
Engage Dallas employs a student director to oversee and enact the community service program within each Residential Commons. The 11 student directors are hired, trained, and evaluated by SCIE and RLSH. On average, each student director works 5 hours a week when classes are in session during the academic year. The student director is expected to collaborate with the Commons Council or leadership team of each Residential Commons. This collaboration could be as a position on the leadership team, as a member of the Commons Council, or as a standalone position that regularly communicates with the community. The primary responsibilities of the student director will be to organize, advertise, and track service opportunities within their Residential Commons. Meet the student directors.
Engage Dallas strives to better inform students, faculty, and staff of the history of the South and West Dallas communities. General Engagement opportunities contribute to student learning through a contextual framework of Engage Dallas social problems, principles of good civic engagement, or other knowledge which enhances the impact of direct service.