Local Businessman Offers Academic Boarding to Dallas ISD Students

Education, Featured

Inside At Last! Boarding. | Image from At Last!

In 2001, Attorney Randy Bowman started a logistics company with his business partner and ran it for seventeen years. He sold it in January 2017 because he wanted to give back.

This year in March, he realized his dream by launching At Last!, a nonprofit that provides operational support to a residential scholar program catering to Dallas ISD students attending public school.

“At Last! was not designed to replicate precisely some journey that I had to success,” Bowman told The Dallas Express. “It was designed to be something that would be replicable in the lives of the many impoverished families so that we could actually attack poverty.”

At Last! is described as an urban boarding school where inner-city students reside during the week Monday through Friday and receive educational support, such as onsite tutoring, supervised homework assistance, hot meals, and a house mother. They return to their families of origin on the weekends.

“What we like for parents to do is to come up and have dinner with their child during the week,” Bowman said in an interview. “It’s a great time and we’re not disrupting programming. The kids are getting what they need to get educated and the parents can visit with them. When parents can’t visit, we are still connecting via zoom.”

Bowman built the 5,700-square foot facility to address education issues in the 75216 ZIP code area, where the “school-to-prison pipeline” is alive and well, according to media reports. Bowman was raised nearby in Pleasant Grove, attending Dallas ISD schools.

“One of the ways that we helped to move this forward in the funding process was by asking families to name the suites for our scholars and if they would name those suites by donating the cost of constructing the wing that the kids would be sleeping in,” he said.

At Last! is among the twenty nonprofits this year that received a grant from the Village Giving Circle, a philanthropic organization dedicated to funding black nonprofit organizations in North Texas. According to Lisa Montgomery, president and founding co-chair of The Village Giving Circle, at Last! was awarded $50,000.

“The Village Giving Circle has been a partner with At Last! because we believe in Randy’s vision and his boldness in attacking poverty through providing this resource in and for our community,” she said.

At Last!, temporarily hindered by the pandemic, has had to limit the number of scholars-in-residence to twelve rather than sixteen.

“We had to modify our operating profile at the last moment because of COVID-19,” Bowman said in an interview. “We’ve not had one minute of operation outside of a COVID environment but we’ve still been able to get outstanding outcomes despite having COVID limiting our operating profile.”

The nonprofit caters to children as young as third, fourth and fifth grade but will eventually serve first grade through sixth-grade students. After parents apply, students are selected by lottery.

“I’m not going to be able to eliminate all of the headwinds that exist in the lives of these kids but what we are able to do is to work really well with the moms and grandmothers who have chosen this program as the right resource for their family,” Bowman said. “We do everything that we can to be good partners with them to mitigate the challenges that their parents are facing in trying to put forth the right home life for their children.”

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