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We Refuse to Lose: Dallas Spotlight

The We Refuse to Lose series explores what cradle-to-career initiatives across the country are doing to improve outcomes for students of color and those experiencing poverty. The series profiles five communities—Buffalo, Chattanooga, Dallas, the Rio Grande Valley and Tacoma—that are working to close racial gaps for students journeying from early education to careers. A majority of these students come from populations that have been historically oppressed and marginalized through poorly resourced schools, employment, housing and loan discrimination, police violence, a disproportionate criminal justice system and harsh immigration policies.

The profile features the city’s cradle-to-career backbone organization, the Commit Partnership, and its coalition of over 200 partners, as they reckon with profound racial segregation and race-based barriers to upward economic mobility. Commit and its partners are striving to resolve those wealth disparities through equitable access to quality education and living wage job opportunities.

Commit’s efforts to support the improvement of the quality of teaching in schools serving a high percentage of students experiencing poverty are yielding strong results, with math and reading scores improving at much higher rates in its target schools versus schools in the state and in peer comparison groups. And beyond schools and classrooms, with the help of Commit’s advocacy, the state has seen a complete redesign of its school finance system, providing $6.5 billion in new funding for education, much of which is earmarked for schools serving the greatest number of students experiencing poverty.

In tandem with these successes, Commit has been on an internal quest to improve the diversity, equity and inclusion within its own four walls, acknowledging the import of internal work first if it is to maintain a relentless focus on equity externally. “To best serve [students of color] and see the impact we want to create by giving many more access to living wage jobs, we have to understand the systemic factors that have created these outcomes. Those systemic factors require that we do internal DEI work and develop an understanding of the systems we want to change,” says Erica Adams, Managing Director of Strategic Relationships at Commit.

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