If you have questions about the SOAR educational initiative that are not answered below please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT IS SOAR?
Piloted in the fall of 2012, SOAR is a collective-impact education initiative of Serve West Dallas. The SOAR initiative partners West Dallas schools, strategic educational partners, West Dallas nonprofits, business, and Dallas churches to identify and address the specific gaps and challenges of each target school. This unique model supports the school staff, external programs and organizations, students, and their families through a systematic collaborative effort.
WHAT DOES SOAR STAND FOR?
SOAR stands for Services Optimizing for Academic Reach
WHAT IS SOAR’S MISSION?
SOAR seeks to fill the gaps and challenges of West Dallas schools by accelerating academic achievement, enhancing social and emotional well being of students, and improving parent and teacher climate and involvement so that the students may grow to be successful and engaged citizens.
WHO IS SERVE WEST DALLAS?
Serve West Dallas (SWD) is a 501(c)3 faith-based nonprofit collaborative established in 2009. Our leadership is comprised of the directors of 13 faith-based nonprofits, liaisons with local urban and Dallas suburban churches, and several Dallas businessmen. The collective vision is to see a spiritual, economic, social, and physical transformation of West Dallas neighborhoods in zip code 75212, believing that greater social change comes about through collaboration and a collective-impact mindset: "the whole is stronger than the individual parts."
Serve West Dallas acts as the "backbone" organization for SOAR, managing and overseeing the initiative.
HOW IS SOAR DIFFERENT THAN THE SCHOOL ZONE?
SOAR and The School Zone are both collaborative initiatives targeting education in West Dallas. The difference lies in the area of focus and strategic model, neither model competes with the other, but rather, they both play a supportive role with the other. SOAR partners with The School Zone and The School Zone partners with SOAR.
SOAR works as a "boots on the ground" collaborative model, daily working in and with faculty, students, parents, and community partners to facilitate targeted, immediate, and sustainable intervention plans that are customized to the unique needs at each school. The School Zone provides a "10 thousand foot view" collaborative model, showing the big picture--growth, data, and gaps for the West Dallas education system as a whole--and providing legal, technical, and social infrastructure to their nonprofit partners.
HOW IS SOAR FUNDED?
Serve West Dallas solicits funds from foundations and private individuals to support its backbone services, which include items like personnel, program support (childcare, translation assistance, food, etc.), and program development and evaluation. Each SOAR partner has their own individual budgets and raises their own financial support. Serve West Dallas does not act as a pass-thru nor does it award funding to the SOAR partners.
WHAT SCHOOLS ARE PARTNERED WITH SOAR?
For the 2016-2017 academic year, SOAR is partnered with Amelia Earhart Learning Center and C.F. Carr Elementary. However, the initiative plans to continue expansion until all Dallas ISD schools in the Pinkston/Edison feeder pattern in West Dallas are covered. This includes seven elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school.
WHO LEADS SOAR?
At the top level, the initiative is led and guided by its advisory team, comprised of the directors of the Serve West Dallas Ministry Partners participating in SOAR (ARK, Brother Bill's Helping Hand, Mercy Street, Pastoral Counseling Center, and Voice of Hope ). The Advisory Team provides leadership by discussing and voting on policies, procedures, vetting of new partners, and ensuring fidelity of program implementation. In addition, the team ensures that the initiative remains aligned with the original SOAR mission and the mission of the parent organization, Serve West Dallas. Daily implementation, goal setting, and strategy for SOAR is led by a school specific steering committee.
WHAT IS A SOAR STEERING COMMITTEE?
Each school has its own steering committee chaired by a SWD Ministry Partner. They are composed of at least one representative from each SOAR partner, the Serve West Dallas SOAR personnel, and the schools' principals and community liaisons. The committee members work together to provide and execute collective-impact direct service delivery plans, in partnership with the school, which helps to strategically address the school’s unique gaps and challenges.
HOW OFTEN DOES THE STEERING COMMITTEE MEET?
To maintain ongoing communication, the committee’s members attend monthly meetings to discuss gains, difficulties, suggestions, or concerns in their target school. The team then comes up with collaborative strategies to overcome challenges as well as figuring out how to work together more effectively.
WHAT IS “COLLECTIVE-IMPACT”?
“Collective-Impact” refers to a proven approach based on the Stanford Social Innovation Review, systematically bringing together community resources and services in an organized collaboration containing five key ingredients:
1. Common Agenda: All participating organizations have a shared vision for social change that includes a common understanding of the problem and a joint approach to solving the problem through agreed upon actions.
2. Shared Measurement System: Agreement on the ways success will be measured and reported with a short list of key indicators across all participating organizations.
3. Mutually Reinforcing Activities: Engagement of a diverse set of stakeholders, typically across sectors, coordinating a set of differentiated activities through a mutually reinforcing plan of action.
4. Continuous Communication: Frequent communications over a long period of time among key players within and across organizations, to build trust and inform ongoing learning and adaptation of strategy.
5. Backbone Organization: Ongoing support provided by an independent staff dedicated to the initiative. The backbone staff tends to play several roles to move the initiative forward: Guide Vision and Strategy; Support Aligned Activity; Establish Shared Measurement Practices; Build Public Will; and Mobilize Funding