I’m thrilled to learn about a new project that the I Have a Dream Foundation launched in partnership with Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room campaign. I love it when organizations work together. When they partner their resources and aims, they increase their impact as well as learn from each other.
The I Have A Dream Foundation grew out of the life changing promise of Eugene M. Lang, who—35 years ago—promised a whole class of children in Harlem that he would pay their college tuition. Focused on disrupting the cycle of intergenerational poverty, IHDF has already served more than 17,000 students, called “Dreamers.” I love the fact that it works with whole classes—sometimes entire schools—and does not cherry-pick high achievers.
Obama’s Reach Higher initiative was launched in 2014 as a way to inspire American youth to complete education past high school—at a professional training program, community college, or four-year college. Better Make Room is a public awareness campaign that celebrates the efforts of young people to pursue higher education and take hold of their future, across new media platforms .
From K to College in a Year
To tell its powerful story, IHDF is embarking on a yearlong, multimedia documentary that will follow students from kindergarten to college. Because of its unique 17-year support, IHDF has students right now in all grades from K-12, in college, and in their careers.
Donna Lawrence, IDHF’s president and CEO, says this won’t be a traditional documentary. “We are taking to social media and blogs to capture the stories and talents of Dreamers across platforms—whether they’re pieces of writing, art, or short videos with life updates. The goal is to capture the long-term approach and impact of our programs.”
The project includes a “takeover” by Better Make Room in January, in which Dreamers from eighth to twelfth grade will share their experiences on Better Make Room’s blog medium and social media accounts. Lawrence says, “We see the type of storytelling Better Make Room does as an important part of engaging Dreamers in middle and high school.”
During this yearlong project, you’ll hear from students, like fourth-grader Pacifique, whose parents came to the U.S. as refugees from Tanzania. “I want to become a scientist and help discover ways for people in other countries to get clean water and clean air,” he says.
You’ll also hear from Martisia, a college student in Atlanta. “I am majoring in biology and have a concentration in secondary education. I’ve been employed as an intern at Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia. This past May, I studied in China for three weeks.”
Interest piqued? Learn more at the IHDF website.