Disney Dreamers Academy, dreamers, business, entrepreneurship,

Disney Dreamers Talk Business And Philanthropy

The 2024 Class of Disney Dreamers received their flowers in early April at the Disney Dreamers Academy.

The annual Disney Dreamers Academy 2024 took place April 3 through April 7 in Orlando, Florida. Thousands of students ages 14 to 18 could apply, but only 100 were chosen. The youth who make the cut display great character, initiative, and drive. Their dreams are big, and they are actively taking steps to achieve them.

The program is integral to Disney’s commitment to supporting diverse communities by encouraging the next generation to think and dream big. Dreamers possess outstanding resumes. The 100 Dreamers’ philanthropic work, artistic talent, and business acumen are admirable. Over five days, the dreamers attended hands-on workshops tailored toward their interests, received behind-the-scenes looks at Disney operations, and were treated to visits from celebrity mentors and guest speakers.

BLACK ENTERPRISE is dedicated to uplifting and amplifying the youth who strive to add value to the communities around them. The future of the Black business community was present at Disney Dreamers Academy. BE spoke with some of the exceptional young leaders of today and tomorrow. 

Noelle Nelson

Noelle Nelson, 2024 Disney Dreamer
(Photo: K. Edwards/BLACK ENTERPRISE) 

You founded a nonprofit, Best Buddies Wear Teal & Red, that advocates for allergy awareness and sit on a board of directors. What have you learned about business and how boards operate based on those experiences?

We all have different thoughts and ideas that have been able to help us grow. We discuss who could sponsor and partner with us. 

You are a journalist, health advocate, and business woman. If you had to pick one role, which would you choose?

Definitely, healthcare combined with education. I work with kids in camps once a month to help them feel supported and empowered in their journey and also learn more about their food allergies.

If you could put out an appeal to anybody to help your business grow what would it be?

I would ask 100% for more funding to be able to have educational curriculum. To teach about not just food allergies but all hidden conditions nationally. Nationwide awareness would help progress to have more empathy and legislation.

Jayden Watkins 

Jayden Watkins, 2024 Disney Dreamer
(Photo: K. Edwards/BLACK ENTERPRISE)

You are the CEO of Higher Is Waiting. Tell us about it.

Higher Is Wating’s mission is to host mentorship programs for teenagers in my area. I’m planning a huge book bag giveaway for the summertime and youth explosion. We donate care packages to the community, because that is where my passion lies.

How do you decide as the CEO, what’s needed and what’s next?

So prayer is very important to me. I usually have a vision. Always write down your visions. The youth explosion, I wrote it down on paper years ago, but now it’s coming to fruition. Also, you need a board of directors.

What have you learned from working with the board of directors?

Be open minded. You may have a dream, but God can bring other people into the mix to take that dream even further. We have wisdom as teenagers but other people have lived longer than us. So having a board  gives new insight.

If you could put out an appeal to anybody to help your business grow what would it be?

We need mentors who will pour into us and not overlook us because we’re at the bottom right now. Give me advice, show me where I’m weak and be open to our ideas. I didn’t know about filing 501(c)(3). I had to reach out to people, and they did not reach back out to me.

If we want Black enterprise to thrive we have to work in unity. 

Lola Obasade 

Lola Obasade, 2024 Disney Dreamer
(Photo: K. Edwards/BLACK ENTERPRISE)

Let’s talk about your early reading initiative.

We host events to encourage children to read. We’ve been going to local schools and kindergartens and reading to them, and also passing out care packages with books to help inspire more kids to read.

You want to pursue neuroscience and focus on early reading gaps. How do those endeavors look in the future?

I want be like a scientific researcher managing a hospital one day, becoming a CEO.

What’s gonna happen to the reading initiative when go to college?

I still want it to continue during college  and encourage my classmates to also participate in it, too.

What would you say to other children who want to start a nonprofit for early reading or anything else?

I would just encourage them to really be out there because, you know, I was really nervous to start it because I wasn’t sure if anyone wanted to do it with me. I learned that you have the power to be a difference and make change. Go for it.

TeLario Watkins ll 

TeLario Watkins ll, Disney, Disney Dreamers Academy, Dreamers
TeLario Watkins, 2024 Disney Dreamer (Photo: Mark Ashman/Disney)

Tell me about being a “Hunger Hero.”

I partnered with No Kid Hungry. I organize fundraisers to raise money and awareness for child hunger. They’ve given me the title of Hunger Hero.

Tiger mushroom farms is your business. Do you have any employees? Do you have any plans to scale up? 

I do. I want to have a full, established food company out of Tiger Mushroom Farms. It’s only my family and I right now. We’re working on our seasoning line.

How do you manage running a business, running a non profit, going to high school, speaking engagements, etc.?

I finish my schoolwork while I’m in school, then I work in my business. l go down to my basement, take care of my mushroom sprouts.  We plant them and once they start sprouting transplant them over to one of my community gardens. 

How many acres do you have? 

One acre was donated to us, and then we also have another acre where I donated around 250 feet to a local food bank for their garden.

If you could put out an appeal to anybody to help your business grow what would it be?

Volunteers. We definitely need a lot of volunteers for all the projects that we want to start. 

Christiana Blankson 

Christiana Blankson, 2024 Disney Dreamer
(Photo: K. Edwards/BLACK ENTERPRISE)

Let’s talk about Ana Mission, what inspired you to start it? And how’s it going?

Ana Mission is my catering company. It came from my love of making and eating breakfast tacos.  I love them so much, and I’ve become quite the connoisseur. I was inspired to make it a business. I started it in 2017 or 2018. I’ve been doing it every summer and long as I’m here I will keep building it. I also sell my cookies in my school cafeteria as a non-profit venture.

It’s very difficult to get school cafeterias to introduce a new food because of food allergies and safety concerns. How did you accomplish that?

A lot of meetings. Administrators asked me the ingredients  and safety protocols. I had print them out along with my mission and post in the school store. I’m donating proceeds to kids in Ghana for their shelter, food and health care. It’s called Peacock Cookie, it’s mint chocolate chip. Soon I’ll introduce my gluten-free cookie. 

Tell us about Black Girl unity.

I have two younger sisters in the middle school. As a girl, I feel like our experiences are different than guys. Black Girl Unity was really supposed to help fix the mistakes that I feel like are being made when it comes to Black girls assimilating.

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