So SMAART (pronounced “so smart”) is an early intervention program established by Trinity (TX) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, to mentor girls, in fourth through eighth grades, and address the lack of minority female students pursuing careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) areas.So SMAART is an acronym for Set on Science and Engineering, Mathematics, the Arts, Aviation, Reading and Technology. Through a partnership with the Dallas Independent School District, Trinity Chapter conducts the So SMAART Program for young girls at Thomas L. Marsalis Elementary School and William Hawley Atwell Law Academy. The program continues in a virtual format through the global COVID pandemic.
With over 26 community partners lending professional, financial and in-kind support, the So SMAART Program is able to provide meaningful, non-traditional career awareness education, workshop learning, field experiences and hands-on experiences.
Each year, the program schedule commences in September with an orientation for So SMAARTers and their parents, corporate partners, volunteers and school officials where planned activities for the next 12 months are introduced. During the school term, monthly two-hour sessions focused on components of STEM are led by Trinity members and community partners. Reading comprehension, interpersonal skills such as communication and etiquette, and activities to develop self-confidence are incorporated into each monthly session.
Monthly sessions are strengthened by designated field experiences including a college journey tour at the University of North Texas at Dallas, robotics activities at the University of Texas at Dallas Science and Engineering Education Center and field trips to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas Museum of Art, American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum, DanceAfrica Festival, and the Dallas Area Coalition to Prevent Childhood Obesity’s Get Kidz Fit Fest.
The final activity of the school year is the Youth Summit in May where So SMAARTers showcase the skills they have learned and have their progress recognized and celebrated by school officials, corporate partners, volunteers, parents and Trinity members.
Many So SMAARTers earn the opportunity to attend fully funded out-of-state and local summer camps including, but not limited to, Aviation Challenge Camp at NASA in Huntsville, Alabama; Sea Camp at Texas A&M University at Galveston; Robotics Camp at the University of Texas at Dallas; Science Camp at Fair Park; Eagle Aviation Camp at American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum; TexPREP at the University of North Texas at Dallas; Art Camp at Dallas Museum of Art; Youth Dance Enrichment Workshop at Dallas Black Dance Theatre; and Summer Youth Arts Enrichment Program at The Black Academy of Arts and Letters.
Parental engagement is a key factor in So SMAARTers’ development. Regularly scheduled parent meetings are held to equip parents with the tools they need to ensure their daughters’ success in the So SMAART Program.
Trinity Chapter’s So SMAART Program has been recognized as a best practice program for The Links, Incorporated at several Western Area Conferences and National Assemblies, in addition to receiving numerous awards and grants from corporate foundations.
To date, So SMAART has positively motivated over 960 girls in the Dallas community to believe in their abilities, set high goals and consistently strive to make those goals a reality. Some early graduates of the program have realized careers in math, education, law and medicine.