About the Program
The I Have a Dream program was launched in 1981, when founder Eugene Lang returned to his alma mater, PS. 121 in East Harlem, to address the graduating sixth grade class. When he learned that three-quarters of the school’s students would probably drop out of school, Lang promised college tuition to every sixth grader who graduated from high school.
The results were truly amazing, 90% of those sixth graders graduated from high school, and 60% went to college. This remarkable accomplishment led to the creation of the I Have a Dream Foundation, which consists of 35 affiliates across the United Sates, and one in New Zealand. Within those 35 affiliates, there are 65 current cohorts serving more than 4,000 Dreamers in 30 U.S. cities.
The Miami chapter was founded in 1995 by the Trump Family. The foundation adopted the entire second grade class (97 Dreamers) at the Charles R. Drew School in Liberty City. 95 Dreamers reached the twelfth grade, 83 of them graduated in 2005 on time and, 54 graduated college and several are currently enrolled in higher education. In a community where the average income is $11,000, 1 out of 4 children is arrested by the age of 16, teenage pregnancy is prevalent and the graduation rate of less than 25%, the “ I Have a Dream” Miami program has helped defy these odds. These Dreamers have proven that just because one is born into poverty, does not mean that one cannot succeed, if only given the opportunity to.
In August of 2007, we started a new class of Dreamers at Hibiscus Elementary School; the class of 2020. We have promised all 97 children the same opportunities as the class of 2005.
What makes this program so effective?
Our program adopts an entire kindergarten class at a low performing school in an economically disadvantaged area. At least 75% of the children in the school must be on a free lunch program for the school to be chosen. Once chosen, we provide tutoring, mentoring, pregnancy and drug prevention programs, college prep classes and counseling to our Dreamers. We have a full time project coordinator Jonas Severe, who is working closely with our Dreamers and their parents. We also involve their families by showing them how to support their children’s academic success.
These Dreamers are provided with year-round (after school and summer) programs of academic enhancement, as well as cultural, social, and recreational activities, throughout their entire educational years; elementary, middle and high school. This continuous motivation and support at an early stage in their lives remains consistent through high school giving them the stability and proper tools that children need and deserve to reach their academic success.