Defeating Summer Learning Loss in Texas: Big Thought's Dallas City of Learning


                                 Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings meeting with a Marsh Middle School Student

Gigi Antoni, President & CEO of Big Thought (the Young Audiences Arts for Learning affiliate in Dallas, Texas) has developed a successful partnership initiative that will offer thousands of students a chance for summer-time learning in Dallas. Co-author of the book, More Than the Sum of its Parts: Collaboration & Sustainability in Arts Education, Gigi Antoni has organized large-scale collaborations that have brought together non-profit organizations, city agencies, and for profit companies. Together they have worked to generate programs that have a great impact for all children in the city.

Dallas City of Learning is a multi partner initiative that has turned Dallas into a citywide learning laboratory for young people this summer. Beginning on June 2nd, Dallas and four other U.S. cities (Columbus, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.) are continuing the new learning model that was launched with great success last summer in Chicago. Dallas City of Learning is part of this nationwide movement to leverage community, corporate and city resources to create new links between in-school and out-of-school learning. It is designed to help Dallas youth pursue their interests in the arts, science and literatureClasses will be offered at major institutions like the Dallas Public Library, the Dallas Theater Center, and the Dallas Museum of Art. 



Throughout the summer, participants will be challenged to earn digital badges to document their learning and give young people recognition for their accomplishments. Using Mozilla’s secure Open Badges platform to safely award, store and display badges, Dallas City of Learning participants will collect an online “backpack” of badges that unlock deeper learning experiences and special opportunities. Badges will also be a form of currency: over time, they will help young people gain access to internships, jobs and college admission.

Similar to a badge earned in scouting, a digital badge recognizes and celebrates mastery of a new skill — but with a 21st century twist. Digital badges contain layers of in-depth information about the badge holder’s skills and competencies. A few clicks of the mouse can show where the learning took place, what skills and knowledge were acquired, examples of creative work and more.

Dallas City of Learning not only provides art classes, but also science, design, sports, performance, and coding programs- a huge variety of events and programs. The programs are geared for students; aged 5-18 and most of them are free. Many families in Dallas cannot afford to send their children to summer programs, Gigi Antoni is working to narrow this disparity: 

“We know that kids spend 80% of waking hours outside the classroom, yet chances for out-of-school enrichment aren’t typically available to many of the kids in our city. By 6th grade, kids from middle income families have benefited from 6,000 more hours of enrichment compared to their lower income peers. Dallas City of Learning provides more kids more ways to explore Dallas and pursue their learning interests while closing this opportunity gap."


Learn more about Dallas City of Learning.



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