By Justin Hensley
The mission of After-School All-Stars North Texas (ASASNTX) is to provide comprehensive, cost-free after-school programs that keep children safe and help them succeed in school and life.
Since 2012, ASAS has focused on serving the students with the highest needs. Of the students ASAS serves in Dallas County, 97 percent identify as Black, Indigenous or youth of color, and 88 percent come from economically disadvantaged homes.
ASAS serves these communities based on the idea that one’s race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status should not be and indicator of their safety or access to success-driving resources, such as quality education and enrichment.
The enrichment offered through ASAS programs are critical to youth development, as studies have shown that the skills, habits, connections, and knowledge kids develop through extracurricular activities help them gain self-esteem and resilience and decrease the likelihood they will engage in risky behavior. According to Afterschool Alliance, cost remains the largest barrier for parents who want their children enrolled in after-school programs. in the organization’s mission, After-School All-Stars North Texas ensures accessibility for all students by offering its program at no cost to families.
North Texas Giving Day remains one of largest sources of funding during the fall. All funds secured from North Texas Giving Day support the creation, execution and sustainability of comprehensive programming for All-Stars. The program is designed to provide daily learning in the following categories: Academic Readiness, STEM Programming, Career Exploration Experiences, Health & Wellness and the Visual & Performing Arts. All programming includes a strong mentorship and social-emotional learning component, instilling in our students the mindset and social-emotional skills to thrive in all their endeavors. These elements are coupled with community service projects in order to help local youth understand how they can use their newfound confidence and leadership skills to directly impact the communities that raised them. This multi-faceted method allows youth to acquire the knowledge, skills, work habits and character traits needed to succeed not just academically, but in their future careers and life outside of school and work.
The work ASAS does is best shared from those it directly impacts. Penelope, an eighth grade All-Star, said:
“All-Stars helped me try new things like lacrosse, which I would have never done before. I also got to volunteer at a homeless shelter for the first time. It made me feel good to help out someone who was in need and made me feel thankful for the things I have. I also joined #femSTEM, a club just for girls where we do STEM activities and learn about different careers.
“Even when schools shutdown due to the virus, All-Stars helped me see and talk to other kids through all the different virtual activities they offered for us to do. I even got groceries delivered to my house each week by Ms. Sabrina so I could participate in cooking online! That was my favorite part of the week. It was a chance to take a break from any worries, relax and catch up. I would not have been able to see or talk to my friends if it wasn’t for All-Stars.
“All-Stars has really helped me grow my self-confidence. I am really going to miss Ms. Sabrina and Ms. Neely especially. They’ve always been there to help make me feel better if I’m ever feeling down and encouraged me to be myself and be more involved. I hope I can come back to volunteer for All-Stars and give back to kids like me. I’m thankful to have had three great years as an All-Star!”
This year, After-School All-Stars North Texas’ theme is Together We Rise, showcasing how we rise to the occasion, overcome all obstacles, and continue to go above and beyond as a community. Just as the year before, this year COVID-19 has given light to some unique challenges to the academic and social-emotional success of Dallas youth. To overcome these challenges, we hope you’ll rise with us as we work to raise $30,000 on North Texas Giving Day on September 23 from 6 a.m. to midnight. To empower the future safety and success of Dallas youth, visit northtexasgivingday.org and donate towards the empowerment of Dallas youth.