For kids from middle or upper class families in Texas, there are lots of obvious advantages, and maybe some that are less obvious, too. If mom and dad are working a second or third job to put food on the table, who’s going to help you with homework or teach you how to take notes in class?
According to The Dallas Morning News, nearly one of every three kids in Dallas live in poverty – and for some that means dealing with issues of hunger, sometimes homelessness, or violence. Now a Dallas businessman has an idea that may sound extreme to some, but it’s getting more and more support.
At Last! is a boarding school experience created by Dallas attorney Randy Bowman to address the struggles of impoverished students when they leave the classroom.
“We’re going to lead the curricular component to the school providers who are currently operating: the DISD, private schools, charters,” Bowman says. “We address the home life portion of the day.”
Having a parent present is not a luxury that’s always available for many low-income students. Parents are working to provide while children are left without educational resources to help them succeed before school the next day.
“All we’re trying to do is to replicate in the lives of impoverished children the educational resources and tools that are present in the home life experience of middle class to affluent students,” Bowman says.
The push behind At Last! stems from Bowman’s desire to honor his mother’s sacrifices.
“I am trying to empower other mothers to do the same for their children and have it not be as damaging to their spirit, their morale, their emotional health,” Bowman says.
Still, Bowman says these programs can’t solve all the problems for low-income kids.
“We could never get the challenges and difficulties associated with poverty to organize themselves neatly in a two-hour window after school and only attack us during that time,” Bowman said. “They attacked us throughout the home life portion of the day. You had as many challenges at one o’clock in the morning that you did at four o’clock in the afternoon.”
The beginnings of At Last! have begun with the purchase of land on Overton Road along with collaboration with Paul Quinn College. Paul Quinn students will serve on the counseling staff with duties that include tutoring At Last! students.
Of course, the big question is: where is the money coming from? Bowman says At Last! donors will cover the cost – that’s $12,000 per student each year.
“That’s not an insignificant amount of money,” Bowman says. “But if you compare it to the fact that it costs $160,000 a year to incarcerate someone Texas’s juvenile justice system, it is a bargain and it’s much better way to move society forward.”
Written by Elizabeth Ucles.