The story of SOAR

In 2011 Serve West Dallas initiated work with 3 key grassroots nonprofit organizations – Mercy Street, Voice of Hope, and Adults Relating to Kids (ARK) – to explore ways they could join together to help transform educational outcomes in West Dallas.

The same year, an important article was published by the Stanford Social Innovation Review that reported a highly successful education reform initiative, called a “collective impact” approach, which rapidly gained attention around the nation. Throughout 2011, these West Dallas organizations designed a pilot project called SOAR (Services Optimizing Academic Reach).

With a shared belief that the whole is stronger than the individual parts, SWD and our partners worked together to build trust and a commitment to collaborative work on behalf of the children of West Dallas and their families. We worked closely with Dr. Andrea Nelson (the then principal Amelia Earhart Elementary DISD), recruited Highland Park Presbyterian Church to adopt the school, obtained counsel and support from SMU and Baylor University, and partnered with Salesmanship Club (now Momentous Institute) and Renaissance Learning.

In the fall of 2012 Serve West Dallas launched the first education-focused collective impact service delivery initiative in Dallas at Dallas ISD’s Amelia Earhart Learning Center. With the success of the pilot SWD has expanded the SOAR project to support two additional West Dallas DISD elementary schools George W. Carver Learning Center (Spring 2014) and CF Carr Elementary (Fall 2015).