From first grade through high school graduation, and then "to and through" college.
While "I Have a Dream's" scholarship commitment is important, it is the ongoing, personalized services each class Program Director provides to his/her class of 50 Dreamers throughout their formative years that makes the "I Have a Dream" model such a success nationwide. Each class is assigned a Program Director who maintains personal relationships with the Dreamers and their families and serves as a support and resource for academic and personal problems. Program Directors provide referrals to other agencies to meet overall family needs, and serve as a liaison between Dreamers and their families and school.
After-school Learning Centers
"I Have a Dream" currently operates six after-school learning centers to provide comprehensive resources that encourage academic success and healthy social development. Activities are designed to improve literacy and develop math and science aptitude, increase school attendance and strengthen the connection to school. The centers provide Dreamers with healthy snacks, access to tutors, and assistance with homework, books, supplies, and computers for school projects. One of the learning centers (Iris) is located in a community center at a low-income public housing site and five are school-based at Casey Middle School, Niwot High School, Pioneer Bilingual Elementary School, Ryan Elementary School, and Timberline PK-8 School.
Volunteer tutors are recruited, screened, and placed with Dreamers to provide one-on-one tutoring and assistance with homework. Tutors meet with Dreamers at once or twice a week at the after-school learning center or at schools and local libraries.
Computer Technology Program
Each learning center is equipped with a computer lab. "I Have a Dream" provides access to the Internet, daily guidance with educational software, and general computer training. Special computer technology sessions are provided through the YWCA Wired Girls and Computer Dudes program.
Dreamers are matched with long-term, reliable, and supportive concerned and caring adults who serve as mentors. Adult volunteer mentors are recruited, screened, trained, and placed with every interested Dreamer to provide one-on-one guidance and support and serve as positive role models.
Family Outreach Program
Each bilingual program director establishes ongoing, personalized relationships with all the Dreamers and their families (a total of over 1,000 people) through individual home visits, parent meetings, and family activities. Through the Community Food Share Feeding Families program, "I Have a Dream" parents can shop for groceries with a voucher they earn for participation in "I Have a Dream" programs.
Counseling and Life Skills Program
Program Directors develop personal relationships with each Dreamer in their class. Emphasis is placed on individual counseling, help with personal issues, academic motivation, and referrals to other support organizations when appropriate. Regular Dreamer meetings focus on a variety of life-skill issues, including nutrition, peer pressure, and the decision-making process.
Although success in school is our primary focus, we believe opportunities for academic and career success are significantly enhanced through social confidence, cultural appreciation, commitment to good citizenship, and well-developed leadership skills. Our enrichment programs include weekly Friday Enrichment Days, Teen Nights, and monthly field trips to cultural, community service, and athletic events. Leadership activities include wilderness outings, speaking engagements at "I Have a Dream" events, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations. This program is designed to broaden Dreamer experiences, involve them in the community, and provide incentives to reward positive behavior.
Career Choices and College Preparation Program
This program provides work-based learning services to enhance student motivation and academic achievement, increase personal and social competence related to work, and to provide career exploration and planning. Tours of workplaces, job shadowing, career mentoring, and paid internships are offered. College preparation includes academic counseling, college visits, ACT/SAT preparation, assistance with college admission forms, and a weekend college camp held at the University of Colorado.
CU Dreamer Day
CU hosts this annual event to increase Dreamer familiarity with the campus and college life and show Dreamers that college is a real possibility for them. Dreamers shadow a CU student for a day and attend workshops on Admissions/Financial Aid and Career Exploration.
Throughout the summer, we keep Dreamers engaged in activities designed to build academic, social, and leadership skills through literacy, math, arts, recreational, and community service projects. In addition, Dreamers participate in several area camps, such as Colorado Youth Program and Climbing for Life.
Adopt-a-Family and Crayons to Calculators School Supply Programs
Each year corporations and community members "adopt" Dreamer families to provide gifts to those most in need during the holiday season and provide backpacks filled with much-needed school supplies.
Through a collaborative partnership with the Notre Dame Mission Volunteer Program and the Corporation for National and Community Serivce, "I Have a Dream" participates in the AmeriCorps program. The impact of this effort on our program is enormous - it provides more than 20 AmeriCorps service members for a year of full-time direct program service to the Dreamers. AmeriCorps members are college graduates and are wonderful role models for at-risk youth.