History of the Education Department
In 1995, Janet Morrison was the director of CDM’s food pantry. She lived in an apartment complex nearby alongside families that both received services at CDM and who volunteered there. Parents struggled to spend quality time with their children, but many worked long hours and had limited resources to provide enriching activities for their children. Morrison, seeing the families’ struggles, offered to tutor and provide daily crafts and learning activities for the children every day after she got home from work. CDM recognized that this need was common for many families in southeast Dallas and acknowledged that securing a successful future for the children of South Dallas communities was integral to achieving their mission of building genuine community. They asked Janet Morrison to develop an Educational Outreach Department that would empower the children of South Dallas.
In 1998, the Educational Outreach Department, wanting to develop community within a residential area, moved to Turner Courts public housing apartments. The ASA was offered to families to provide supervision, academic assistance and enrichment activities for children from kindergarten to 5th grade who lived in the complex. The program grew from two kids to a full program of 30 kids, open five days a week. The program operated in Turner Courts until 2008 when the housing development was torn down. In 2008, the ASA moved to the Roseland TownHomes and Estates, enrolling 30 children the first year. Once in Roseland the program was able to be offered year-round.
In the fall of 2009, the program expanded. A Mid-Teen University and Teen University was formed to allow ASA students to continue on their path to becoming academically and socially successful. To assist with the philosophy that low-income families deserve easy and reasonably priced access to books, the Education Department opened a Library/Bookstore in the middle of the community selling books for 25-50 cents. At the same time, Connect U, a technology center, was created and opened in order to provide technology access and education, also in the middle of the community.
All programs, K-12th, are focused on Education, Career Development, and Social Skills. All programs visit at least one college per year. The Education Department is focused on offering educational opportunities that prepare all students for a successful future where they have the self-determination, confidence, hope and perseverance to compete with students from any neighborhood and across the world.
Over the years of children’s educational programs, the Education Department has recognized a need for similar programs being offered to adults. In the spring of 2010 Connect U opened to the adult community of Roseland. Computer access is available to adults after passing a series of online tests that provide critical information about basic computer tools. Online reading programming is also available for adults who wish to improve their skills for personal or educational reasons.