Each month the Commit! Partnership visits communities across the region to speak with and learn from organizations doing important work. Following previous months’ visits to the Margaret H. Cone Head Start Center, Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation, Concord Church and others, in November we visited Trinity River Mission (TRM). The common thread we always see is the unrelenting dedication to students and their families demonstrated by each host organization.
TRM’s programming serves more than 500 students grades K-12 with a mission to improve student achievement. Along with staff and volunteer dedication, small details are aligned to keep student achievement as a top priority. Even the wall color is selected to provide the ideal learning environments, orange and purple for younger students and green and blue for older students. Offering homework help, a top-notch computer lab utilizing online blended learning and tutoring tools and a place for FAFSA completion, TRM provides a comprehensive approach to supporting students outside of school time. It’s no surprise that TRM is one of only three sites quality certified by Dallas Afterschool.
We found three aspects of their program to be particularly noteworthy:
- Parent engagement: Parents of students in the program are highly engaged, at times for multiple generations; mothers and fathers give a range of 60-300 hours of volunteer service a year.
- Volunteer engagement: Volunteer tenures range from 9 months to 20+ years; in fact, the average tutor stays 7 years, transitioning from serving as a tutor to becoming even more of a mentor along a child’s educational journey.
- Partnerships: TRM partners successfully with a diverse group of organizations to further its mission of promoting academic success; additionally, TRM partners with the North Texas Food Bank to provide full dinners for its participants after school and with CitySquare during summer months.
It took time and dedication for TRM to get to where it is now. Building trust and relationships in the community and across the city was essential, and the success of the program early on created a pipeline for further support and leadership, including the current Program Director, Gloria Lopez. Gloria remarked that 97% of children in the program stay from Grade K through 12, a testament to the quality and trust TRM has grown throughout the years.