Dream Big Boulder County

What is the Dream Big Initiative?: A Cradle-to-Career Approach

The Dream Big Initiative is a collaborative of Boulder County nonprofits, the local school district, government agencies, businesses, and other community organizations all working together toward the same goal: to ensure all Boulder County youth and their families are provided the academic, social, and emotional resources needed to succeed. The collaborative is expanding the successful “I Have a Dream” model to develop a streamlined approach to serve more of the county's low-income youth with deepened wrap-around services from Cradle-to-Career.

We're Dreaming Big, with the following Vision:

To “increase Boulder’s collective commitment to eliminate the opportunity and achievement gaps” so that “by 2040, all children in Boulder County are succeeding academically and reaching their full potential.” 


All Partners listed above have invested financially in the collaborative, as well as:
City of Boulder Human Services Fund
Colorado's Department of Higher Education, Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI)
Front Range Community College
Nonprofit Cultivation Center
The Millennium Trust, Community Foundation Serving Boulder County
United Way Foothills Impact Initiatives Fund
University of Colorado

The Dream Big Initiative began meeting in 2014, when "I Have a Dream" Foundation of Boulder County, Boulder Housing Partners (BHP), and the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) began discussing the idea of deepening their partnership into a larger, more intentional collaborative.  They received a grant from the Nonprofit Cultivation Center to explore this further. The goal of this collaborative was to serve more children through “I Have a Dream” and to address the achievement and opportunity gap (building on the efforts of the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County’s School Readiness Initiative’s Community Action Plan for Early Learning). Since then, the partners expanded to include additional stakeholders, meet monthly and have established a structure for the collaborative, including a Steering Committee of community leaders led by Lori Canova, CEO/President of "I Have a Dream," and Rene Brodeur, Director of Operations at Boulder Housing Partners. The collaborative has established workgroups and a “cradle to career” pipeline; and in 2017 the Dream Big Initiative is focusing on formalizing its shared measurements, additional strategies and expansion priorities.

Active Programs

Early Childhood Education
: Ties together housing and education to provide services to low-income parents of children 0-5 years of age so their children are better prepared for school before they reach the classroom.

  • Boulder Housing Partner's housing community centers serve as hubs for parent programming for families with children 0-5. Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA) screens and refers parents with children 0-5 to these education-focused housing communities and provides the first three months of case management. BHP has added an early childhood service coordinator to work with parents and "I Have a Dream" provides an AmeriCorps Member position focused on early education work with the goal to prepare these children for kindergarten readiness.

  • ELPASO:  Other parents in the Boulder County community are served through the Community Foundation's ELPASO (Engaged Latino Parents Advancing Student Outcomes) program, which in its first two years has connected more than 1,900 Latino parents with community resources to ensure their children are also ready for Kindergarten.

  • Latino Parent Summit:  In 2016, the Dream Big ECE workgroup held the first ever Latino Parent Summit in partnership with BVSD to share information to parents on the importance of early childhood education.

K-12: Starting in 1st grade, "I Have a Dream's" student support program provides 12-16 years of academic, social, and emotional support to low-income youth (Dreamers) and their parents to and through college or post-secondary education, in both school settings (Dreamer Academies) and housing sites (Bringing School Home).  


    • In April 2015, the Oak Dreamer Class was launched at Columbine Elementary School, including 2nd and 3rd grade youth attending the school and who lived in Boulder Housing Partner housing sites.

    • In April 2016, the Elk Dreamer Class, which serves 1st - 3rd grade youth at BHP's housing communities, was launched.

    • In January 2017, the La Vista Dreamer Class was launched at Alicia Sanchez International Elementary in Lafayette for a group of 1st graders.

  • The City of Boulder’s Parks and Recreation Youth Services Initiative (YSI) program provides recreational programming to youth in “I Have a Dream” and living at BHP housing sites.

  • Family Resource Network:  By strategically and intentionally partnering with City of Boulder and Lafayette Family Resource Schools & Centers, and BHP, basic needs and case management services are provided to families alongside the academic and social/emotional support the youth (and their families) receive through the "I Have a Dream" program.  

Pathways to College & Career: College and career preparation programming is provided to Dreamers and low-income youth in BHP housing sites and Adelante! at Boulder High School. AmeriCorps members provided through “I Have a Dream” have been placed with both BHP and Adelante! to offer college and career preparation programming.

  • Pre-Collegiate and College retention programming:

    • Through this Dream Big collaboration, youth in BHP's housing sites have access to "I Have a Dream's" pre-collegiate program and BVSD’s Adelante! program which is preparing them for post-secondary success with ACT/SAT preparation, college essay workshops, college & scholarship application support, FAFSA assistance, campus tours (including a pre-collegiate week with Front Range Community College), and concurrent enrollment.

    • Students in the Dream Big partnership, also have an opportunity to participate in a two-week on-campus residency experience with the “I Have a Dream”’s University of Colorado Pre-Collegiate Program.

    • Students in the Dream Big partnership also have an opportunity to apply for college scholarships funded by the Colorado Scholarship Opportunity Initiative and the “I Have a Dream” Foundation of Boulder County.

  • Career exploration:  

    • Students also have an opportunity to apply for paid internships through “I Have a Dream”s Work is Success Internship Program.  A Work Is Success Internship Breakfast will be held in 2017 to expand the program and encourage additional businesses and companies to host summer interns for “I Have a Dream” and other Dream Big partner students.


In the Press
Articles related to the Dream Big programs.