The Commit! team has started a new tradition of sorts; once a month, our staff arranges a lunch-hour visit to learn more about a partner organization, neighborhood or initiative. The purpose is simple: to listen, learn and break bread together.

Thus far, we’ve been hosted by some great organizations: Vickery Meadow Youth Development Foundation, Dallas Urban Debate Alliance, Concord Church, Vogel Alcove and, most recently, Jubilee Park & Community Center.

It was only recently that the thought struck us: “Why don’t we share what we learn with a wider audience?” So, thanks to our friends at Jubilee Park, we offer up our first “partner spotlight” post!

We were attracted to Jubilee Park due to the significant impact they have helped achieve in their neighborhood, from their youngest to eldest residents. Through an integrated, partner-driven approach, the neighborhood has achieved a significant reduction in crime, constructed affordable senior housing units and seen nearby O.M. Roberts Elementary School go from being one of the lowest performing schools in Dallas ISD to exemplary status.

As with many similar efforts, the organization is tackling challenges related to data and youth engagement, but with implementation of a new data system, expanded capacity to serve and a new affordable housing initiative underway, Jubilee Park continues to stand tall in the community. Read on to learn more!

Partner Spotlight: Jubilee Park & Community Center

    1. How did your organization get started?
      Jubilee Park & Community Center was founded in 1997, the “jubilee year” of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church. The congregation chose to mark the occasion by making a long-term commitment to one of Dallas’ poorest and underserved neighborhoods. The congregation members canvassed the neighborhood and learned that families and children had no place to safely congregate. And so the concept for Jubilee Park & Community Center was born.
    2. Who does your organization serve?
      The organization serves the people of Jubilee Park, a 62-block neighborhood in southeast Dallas bounded by Fair Park, I-30 and East Grand Avenue, and the surrounding neighborhoods. Today, the Jubilee Park neighborhood is 65% Hispanic, 34% African American and the average family income is $14,850.
    3. How does your organization support student success?
      In response to the needs and wants of those in the community, Jubilee Park has developed a comprehensive strategy intended to strengthen those elements which create prosperity in any neighborhood: education, public health, public safety, affordable housing and economic development. Education is central, with a lifespan of services provided on the Jubilee campus: early childhood (ages 0-5), afterschool and summer enrichment programming (K-12) and adult education classes (ESL and computer literacy).
    4. What measurable outcomes do you point to as evidence of your success?
      The neighborhood has experienced a 64% reduction in crime since 2007. Nearby O.M. Roberts Elementary School has gone from being one of the lowest performing schools within DISD to Exemplary Status in ’08-’09 and ’09-’10. Its afterschool program is one of only three sites quality-certified by Dallas Afterschool. Multiple homes on Congo Street have been renovated and retrofitted, 24 affordable senior housing units have been constructed and are now occupied, and the first phase of an affordable housing initiative will result in 28 new residences by 2016.
    5. What partnerships do you credit most to your success?
      Jubilee Park’s success can be attributed to an almost countless number of long-term partnerships. Amongst them are:
      • Dallas ISD’s O.M. Roberts Elementary School: Volunteers, many still recruited from St. Michael’s, serve as in-school tutors with Reading Partners, and Jubilee’s afterschool program is the only one in Dallas that employs certified teachers in each of its classrooms. Jubilee staff also serve on the school’s Site Based Decision Making (SBDM) team.
      • Head Start of Greater Dallas: Jubilee Park provides a home for Jeanie’s Place Early Head Start Center (ages 0-3) and Davids’ Place Head Start Center (ages 3-5). Together, these centers offer programs that encompass high quality child development, health and family support.
      • Dallas County Community College District: Jubilee’s adult ESL courses are certified (in some cases taught by a professor) and learners are able to access on-campus resources on the El Centro campus.
      • City of Dallas: A Resource Center serves as a police storefront within the neighborhood and DPD surveillance cameras have been important crime reduction tools. The City has also committed to match $1 million in private dollars raised by Jubilee to build affordable, quality homes in the community.

      By the Numbers:

      • Years in operation: 17 (founded 1997)
      • Geography served/location(s): 62-block neighborhood in southeast Dallas bounded by Fair Park, I-30 and East Grand Avenue
      • # staff: 12
      • # volunteers: 835
      • # clients served: 1,100
      • Annual operating budget: $1.3M