Big Thought president/CEO Gigi Antoni , Mayor Mike Rawlins, T.C. Marsh Middle School Students Danielle and Jasmine: Photo via Big Thought/Facebook

Big Thought president/CEO Gigi Antoni, Marsh Middle School principal Nicky Niewinski, Mayor Mike Rawlings, and T.C. Marsh Middle School students Arnelle, Dannielle, and Jasmine: Photo via Big Thought/Facebook

Now that most area schools are out for the summer, parents are likely to be on the hunt for ways to keep kids and teens happy and occupied.

Dallas City of Learning, a new citywide learning initiative, aims to do just that with a whole slew of educational opportunities, many for free, held throughout the city this summer.

Mayor Mike Rawlings and the education-focused nonprofit Big Thought have partnered to host the initiative along with more than 50 organizations across the city.

Recently, various Dallas-based organizations and educators met at Dallas City Hall to learn more about the initiative. A few neighborhood students from Marsh Middle School (pictured above) were also in attendance to help Mayor Rawlings introduce the concept at Dallas City Hall.

Gigi Antoni, President and CEO of Big Thought, hopes the new initiative will offer learning opportunities to all Dallas students, regardless of socioeconomic status.

“By 6th grade, kids from middle income families have benefited from 6,000 more hours of enrichment compared to their lower income peers. Dallas City of Learning provides more kids more ways to explore Dallas and pursue their learning interests while closing this opportunity gap,” Antoni says via press release.

Activities will be available throughout the summer at various Dallas city agencies, museums, libraries, neighborhood organizations, citywide cultural centers, and online programs presented by educators and mentors.

“Powerful learning occurs when kids explore their interests on their own time in hands-on, collaborative ways,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says.

To encourage student involvement, Dallas City of Learning participants will be challenged to earn digital badges to document their summertime learning. Program planners hope that the badges will also help young people gain access to internships, jobs and college admission later on.

This Friday the activities kickoff with a free jazz concert at Town View Magnet High School and a party on the Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge for its grand reopening on Sunday afternoon. On Sunday, attendees can help create a mural project, view performances by Dallas Theater Center, try puppet-making with Cara Mia Theatre Company, and explore wind and nature with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.

See the full list of scheduled activities online here.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Preston Hollow.