Dallas Afterschool providing summer low-cost learning

NBC Universal, Inc.

Dallas Afterschool is a community-driven nonprofit organization whose organizers say they are dedicated to improving the quality and availability of our of school time for students in Dallas County.

During the school year, they boast more than 230 community partners, 1700 professionals trained and more than 17,000 kids getting the help they need academically.

A great deal of that work centers on literacy.

“It makes me feel like I am making a difference,” Marjorie Murat, Chief Executive Officer of Dallas Afterschool said. “Many of these kiddos in the programs that we support, this may be the only opportunity that they get to engage in some fun STEM experiments as well.”

Murat says it’s work that is invaluable, especially when school is out for the summer.

“Kids in grades, more specifically second through fifth grade, lose about 20% of their school year gains in reading. So, we’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Murat said.

Her suggestion to parents at home is to make reading fun. Picking books that keep a child interested is also important. She also wanted to remind parents that it’s not going to always go as planned, even with the best intentions.

“Kids can also get frustrated when they’re reading. We also provide support in calming techniques when those children get frustrated when they’re reading. It’s OK to take a time out. It’s OK to do some breathing exercises when you have difficulty spelling out a work or pronouncing a word,” Murat said.

According to Murat, there are only enough free and low-cost afterschool programs to meet 17% of the needs in Dallas. She said they are actively working to increase public funding for afterschool at a systems level so all families, regardless of zip code, income, and race, have access to safe, high quality programs.

Dallas Afterschool also recently received a $1 million award through the MacKenzie Scott Yield Giving Open Call. In 2023, Scott put out the call for community-led organizations whose explicit purpose is to enable individuals and families to achieve improvement with foundational resources.

The open call received more than 6,300 applications for 250 awards of $1 million each.

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