Spotlight Non-profit: Low-income students learn life-changing lessons in making their dreams come true

LatinaLista — It is said that a wealth gap exists in the United States that hasn’t been this bad since the Roaring Twenties.

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What that means is that those who are on the lower end of the economic pole suffer the most. For students, this inequality can mean the difference between succeeding and failing in school or even going on to college.

One organization has made it its mission to make sure that low-income children have the same opportunities and academic advantages as their wealthier peers.

The “I Have a Dream” Foundation has dedicated itself since 1981 to helping low-income students achieve their academic dreams. There are 32 affiliates across the country who emulate the “I Have a Dream” model begun by Eugene M. Lang.

The program sponsors entire grade levels of 50-100 students in under-resourced public schools or housing developments, and work with these “Dreamers” from early elementary school all the way through high school.

 

Each affiliate hires a project coordinator and a learning center is established exclusively for that group to provide the Dreamers a year-round program of tutoring, mentoring, after-school enrichment, computer technology training, life and social skills, and college and career preparation until they finish high school.

For those students who stay with the program, they receive a four-year tuition-assistance scholarship for college or vocational school when they graduate from high school.

The program seems to be working. Students in the program were found to have higher grades, missed school less often, were better equipped to resist peer pressure, exhibited more positive attitudes and graduated from high school at higher rates than their peers.

So far, “more than 3,500 Dreamers are on the pathway to college in 17 states, Washington, D.C., and New Zealand, following some 11,000 Dreamers who came before them.”

The national program, and its 32 affiliates, offer many ways for people to get involved. From donating money to sponsoring a program to volunteering to be a mentor, each action plays an active part in keeping children on track to create a future that will make them proud of themselves.

By helping our Dreamers gain access to college, we are putting our Dreamers on a different academic and life trajectory, while having a broader impact on the students’ families and the generations that follow.

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