The mission of the "I Have a Dream" program is to motivate and empower children from low-income communities to reach their education and career goals by providing a long-term intervention program of mentoring, tutoring, and cultural enrichment. Upon graduation from high school, each Dreamer is eligible to receive a four-year tuition-assistance scholarship for college or vocational school.
In 1990, the "I Have a Dream" Foundation of Boulder County was founded as an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our program follows the national "I Have a Dream" model established in New York in 1981 by founder Eugene Lang when he returned to his alma mater elementary school in East Harlem to deliver a speech to a group of graduating sixth graders. Before stepping up to speak, the principal noted that 75 percent of the class would likely not finish high school. Lang made an impulsive on-the-spot decision to promise all the students college scholarships, provided they graduate from high school. Through the years, Lang worked closely with the students, whom he called Dreamers. He provided them with personal and academic support, role modeling, and a promise of college that has today become the driving force behind the mission. Through the nearly 200 "I Have A Dream" programs having operated in 27 states, Washington, D.C., and New Zealand, and together serving over 15,000 Dreamers, Lang's vision lives on.
Since its inception, the "I Have a Dream" Foundation of Boulder County has grown from one Dreamer class and 36 Dreamers to an organization that has supported 14 classes and over 700 Dreamers with services reaching guest participants and Dreamer family members to impact over 3,000 individuals. Graduation rates for youth in the program continue to remain at or above 90%, with at least 85% of those graduates continuing on to post-secondary education. The program has after-school learning centers in three Boulder County communities: Boulder, Lafayette, and Longmon with administrative offices and post-secondary outreach efforts located in Boulder. Current Boulder County Dreamers attend a variety of schools, including Escuela Bilingue Pioneer, Ryan Elementary, Timberline PK-8, Rocky Mountain Elementary, Casey Middle School, Centennial Middle School, Niwot High School, Fairview High School, and Boulder High School, among others.
The "I Have a Dream" Foundation of Boulder County is the 133rd chapter of the national network and remains one of the largest active chapters and is in the middle of expanding with plans to add additional new Dreamer classes over the next few years.