More than 3,500 students benefit annually by attending Thriving Minds After School. They invest in problem-solving, collaborate with peers and instructors, reflect on their learning and apply what they’ve learned in innovative projects.

Students spend most of their lives outside the 8-3pm school classroom environment. While some students have the means to fill this time with quality experiences – some don’t. Thriving Minds After School is the community’s answer to this sad reality.

National research has shown that students engaging in meaningful after school programs can increase their academic and personal development. Our own local research shows that Thriving Minds students become authors and facilitators of their own learning, and as such achieve better grades and greater success on their standardize tests.


Quality of After School Learning Opportunities

Since 2007, cultural partners, teaching artists, classroom teachers, school administrators and researchers have gathered bi-annually to observe and reported the quality of instruction and student learning offered in school-based, after school programs. This assessment uses the Six Dimensions of Quality Teaching and Learning and draws upon national learning standards, 21st Century Skills Framework and the research of the Institute for Learning.

In the beginning almost half of observed after school programming was deemed Less Than Basic and another third was only considered Basic. Recognizing the untapped potential of after school, Dallas ISD asked Big Thought to coordinate and administer their 21st Century after school programming.

Thriving Minds After School, a collaboration of Dallas ISD, Big Thought and the cultural community, began in Fall 2008. Since then, tremendous progress has been made.

Today, Less Than Basic programming is non-existent, and Proficient and Advance levels of teaching and learning have increased by 42%. These gains ensure that more students are thoughtfully collaborating with teachers and peers, actively applying their knowledge through better or more creative choices, and working with their teachers to discover principles instead of memorize facts.