In 1995, FCE began with four areas of focus:

Community building—capacity building as well as home building

Faith-based efforts, especially targeted to after-school curriculum for school-aged children

Education, which in recent years worked with the Dallas ISD to create a curriculum called Dallas Achieves, designed to substantially increase graduation rates

Research, to create accountability in the foundation’s commitment to help create a whole city

PAST INITIATIVES

Over the years, some initiatives have received greater emphasis and others less, depending on the needs at the time. Several were eventually re-created as new foundations or were given to other organizations for their care and stewardship. Here are some examples:

Much of the community- and capacity-building now functions as key aims of a sister foundation, Frazier Revitalization, Inc.

The research arm was passed on to the University of Texas at Dallas as the Institute for Urban Policy Research.

CURRENT INITIATIVES

SOUTH DALLAS FAIR PARK

The Foundation for Community Empowerment is attempting to organize and advocate for the revitalization of the neighborhood near Fair Park. And for many years, FCE has advocated for the revitalization of the South Dallas/Fair Park community through the revitalization of Fair Park itself. Fair Park is an economic engine that has the power to drive growth and change throughout it surrounding neighborhoods. However, despite the success of the annual State Fair of Texas, Fair Park is underutilized and has not yet reached its potential as a sustainable source of economic vitality for its local community. FCE is committed to engaging community residents, civic leaders, business leaders, and other stakeholders in order to generate and promote a comprehensive vision for the revitalization of Fair Park.

FREE MINDS DALLAS

Free Minds Dallas is FCE’s educational arm, providing accredited, college-level coursework for economically distressed citizens in Dallas. It was established to provide a rigorous engagement with the humanities in order to help break the cycle of poverty, inequity, and injustice. It was created in the belief that the humanities—such as literature, philosophy, the arts, history, and critical thinking and writing—can be liberating, not just for the advantaged but also, and maybe especially, for the economically distressed.

The first major initiative of Free Minds was to bring a Clemente Course to Dallas. The Clemente Course, established in 1995 by Earl Shorris, is a national and international program designed to bring college-level courses in the humanities to low-income individuals.

Free Minds offered its first Clemente Course beginning September, 2014. Beginning in 2015, Free Minds began offering two concurrent courses, one at CitySquare and one at El Centro College. The course is taught by accomplished professors from the region. It is accredited through El Centro. The credit can be easily transferred to most colleges and universities.

The course may be taken purely for personal growth, but those who satisfactorily complete the two semesters may receive six hours of college credit.