There are several ways to implement the “I Have A Dream” Program. The Program’s flexibility lets local affiliates and their board and staff adapt their fundraising and programming efforts to fit their local community and their circumstances. This allows IHDF to thrive and be effective in many different parts of the country.
There are several decisions to make in designing how the “I Have A Dream” model and framework will be implemented in your community. The National “I Have A Dream” Foundation will work closely with new Program organizers to determine the most appropriate approach to use under their given circumstances. Following is a description of each decision point and factors to consider in determining the best choice for your community:
Program Location: The first decision is whether your “I Have A Dream” program will partner and operate in either a
- High-needs school (School-based Program),
- A low-income housing community (Housing-based Program), or
- In a community based organization (CBO-based Program), such as a local nonprofit, after school program, or university.
More guidance on selecting a program partner can be found here.
Program Scope: The second decision is determining the program’s scope within the school, housing site, or community:
- One grade level – serving the entire kindergarten or first grade level with a goal of adding another grade level sometime in the future (before or by the time the first cohort graduates from high school).
- One housing community – serving K-2nd graders or 1st-3rd graders in a housing site with a goal of adding another cohort sometime in the future (before or by the time the first cohort graduates from high school.)
- An entire school/housing community, “Stacking”and adding grade levels every year, ultimately serving the entire school/housing community over the course of time (starting with kindergarten or 1st grade level in year 1; in year 2 adding the incoming kindergarteners or 1st graders; and each year, continuing to add a grade level until the entire school is served).
Note: Available resources and partnerships are key to committing to a whole school/housing community approach.
Selecting a Grade Level: Three IHDF policy requirements affect the selection of a grade level(s) in an appropriate school or housing site. IHDF policy requires:
- Programs must sponsor a cohort of Dreamer Scholars no later than the end of third grade (1st grade is preferred). Programs can also serve a range of grade levels such as K-2nd or 1st-3rd to make sure they have enough students to serve in a cohort.
- Programs must offer the program to all the children in the selected grade level(s). Eliminations, exclusions, or selectivity within the group are prohibited. One exception is in communities where there are large disparities of income levels in the schools, in that case, the cohort can include those students eligible for the federal Free or Reduced Lunch Program.
- The total number of Dreamer Scholars in the identified grade level should be between 60 and 80. If no grade level falls within these parameters, contact the national IHDF to discuss a mutually satisfactory solution.
Post-Secondary Scholarship/College Savings Account Promise: Each “I Have A Dream” program must offer a post-secondary scholarship or College Savings Account contribution to students who participate. This can range from a minimum of a one-time $500 contributed into a College Savings Account; to a mid-range of up to $10,000 awarded over a four year period, to an aspirational range of $28,000 ($7,000 per year for four years). Deciding which approach to use (one grade level vs building out an entire school), may determine how much can be raised and promised for the Post-Secondary Scholarship/CSA per student.
- The primary partners in a school-based IHDF Program are the Executive Director, Program Director, Assistant Program Director (if applicable), AmeriCorps Members (if applicable), the school and school system, community-based organizational partners (if applicable), Dreamer Scholars, and their families/caregivers.
- When selecting a school partner, it’s critical that they are supportive of IHDF’s mission and cooperative in allowing IHDF to work in the school and with school personnel.
- The cohort must be selected before the end of third grade (ideally, before the end of first grade), and must include all of the students in the chosen grade level(s). Note: In communities with large disparities of income levels, students eligible for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program can be selected to participate, but must include all eligible students.
- Either the school, housing site, or community-based organization (CBO) can provide the Program with space and facilities, administrative support, program guidance, and access to social services.
- With any program model, it’s critical to ensure that your budget and staffing plan account for local requirements related to adult-child supervision ratios. A state-by-state survey can be found here.
School-based Programs (SBPs), in which an entire grade level of students are sponsored from an elementary school, are the original model for organizing an IHDF Program. The central figures in a SBP are the Executive Director, Program Director, Program Coordinator (if applicable), AmeriCorps Members (if applicable), school, a community-based organization (if applicable), and the Dreamers and their families/caregivers. Typically, the organization of a SBP is spearheaded by an identified lead organizer and an advisory/expansion committee made up of community members. Raising the necessary funds, selecting an appropriate school, and hiring an Executive Director are the major tasks that precede the kickoff of a new SBP. After the Program is operational, the school is often the central locale of the Program. The Program staff may work out of the school, and Dreamer Scholars may participate in IHDF activities there both during and after school. A Community-Based Organization (CBO) may also provide a place for the Program office and activities, but in SBPs the elementary school often provides the Program’s primary access to the Dreamer Scholars and becomes a key partner in IHDF’s work.
Public Housing based programs
In 1992, the national “I Have A Dream” Foundation, with the support of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, officially launched a second model for an IHDF Project-one based in public housing. This concept originated from an experimental program in Boca Raton, Florida. A potential Sponsor there had done some investigating and found that the children of Boca Raton who were most in need of support were dispersed among the public schools and that no single school or grade had a concentration of low income children. Therefore, he felt he needed an alternative way to identify a group of children in need of IHDF’s services.
The basic structure of a PHDP is similar to traditional school-based Projects. It requires a PC and a Sponsor and the participation of a community-based organization and the public elementary schools. The primary difference between PHDPs and SBPs is that the local housing authority and a local college or university, called the College Affiliate, are also formal, full-fledged partners in most PHDPs. The involvement of the housing authority and College Affiliate bolster program substance and resources. Also community and tenant groups are usually eager to assist because IHDF offers concrete opportunities to benefit the young residents, to create inter generational activities between the Dreamers and those active in the tenants’ association, and to attract new resources to the housing community.
The Role of the Local Housing Authority
The local housing authority’s involvement can be beneficial in terms of logistical, program, and funding support. The housing authority should help select an appropriate development, identify the Dreamers, introduce the program into the community, and engage other community partners. The housing authorities often provide renovated space for the IHDF office, which can be an apartment, community space, and/or use of the community center. Funding for program operation, and potentially for the PC’s salary, may be available through grants issued by the housing authority. Each housing authority will have a different amount of funding available and the process for applying for these grants will vary from city to city. Housing authorities can also be helpful in designing activities that incorporate the IHAD Project into the broader community. For example, Dreamers have planted community gardens or cleaned up graffiti in the developments. The housing development’s maintenance department or tenants’ group have provided tools, supplies, and technical assistance.
The Role of the College Partner
IHDF has a history of working closely with colleges and universities in a wide variety of ways. Institutions such as Grinnell College and Carnegie Mellon University’s Graduate School of Industrial Administration have been leaders in starting IHDF Programs in their communities. To maximize the benefits college partnerships offer to Dreamers, a college partner was formally incorporated into the PHDP model as the College Partner.
The College Partner is expected to provide guidance, volunteers, program expertise, and staff support. It is also expected to bear the expenses of its IHDF-related activities. Funding for community outreach is often available from a variety of sources within the institution. If this is not the case, these institutions are in a position to seek funding for such activities as a partner with IHDF. In-kind contributions can be equally important-staff time and access to faculty, space, and facilities can relieve an enormous burden on the Program. For example, work-study funds can be used to pay one or two students to coordinate volunteer recruitment and training. Students who tutor in the after-school program may earn course credit for required field work or independent study. College partners quickly recognize that the program increases student and faculty participation in community service, offers opportunities for field work and curriculum development, and connects the institution more closely to its neighboring community.
Other Program Partners
PHDPs tend to be more highly structured than SBPs because of the participation of institutional partners, the housing authority, and the College Partner; they typically require some formal procedures for documenting their participation and establishing accountability among the partners. This involvement does not preclude the participation of other volunteers and service providers, however. For example, the Chelsea-Elliott Project based in public housing in New York, with the New School for Social Research and the New York City Housing Authority as its partners, also engages a host of other volunteers. As a result of working with IHDF, a clinical psychologist has established a counseling center for all the development’s residents where they can receive counseling and educational assessment services. VISTA members, AmeriCorps members, and other volunteers and staff from the Project’s CBO, the Hudson Guild, complement programming and assist the PC by creating, managing, and staffing particular activities. The extensive involvement of individuals from many different agencies and institutions requires the PC to be very organized, careful in documenting resources, and adept at working with different agency and institutional cultures and procedures. While it may generate more paperwork and bureaucracy, the mobilization of new and diverse resources for the benefit of the Dreamers, their families, and ultimately the housing community enables IHDF to serve as the focal point for a rich support program.
What is a CBO? CBO stands for community-based organization. Technically speaking, a CBO is an organization that serves the needs of a specific neighborhood or community. Some provide cradle-to-grave services for every age group in their communities. This includes day care, teen activities, young adult job training, adult education, activities for senior citizens, and referrals for services such as health care or public assistance. Other CBOs may serve a specific age group. The Hudson Guild, a settlement house in New York City, has served as the CBO for two IHDF Programs and is a good example of a traditional CBO.
For purposes of IHDF Programs, a CBO has a broad definition. It can be a youth center, Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, religious facility, school, college, or university. Essentially, it’s the facility that operates as the project’s home base. The CBO may provide office space, administrative support, meeting space for the Dreamers, and some pre-existing programs and services in which the Dreamers and parents can participate. Usually, the selected group of Dreamers are members of the population the CBO serves so the CBO is willing to house IHDF because it provides an additional support to the CBO’s constituency. The CBO should be located in the Dreamers’ neighborhood or be easily accessible to them. Some school-based Programs primarily operate out of the school. Affiliating with a CBO provides additional flexibility and support such as more activity and meeting space, facilities to use in the evenings and on weekends, and access to programs the CBO operates for youth. In public housing-based Projects, the Project may have office space in the development and use space in a nearby CBO or a community center in the development.
IHDF’s method of defining the eligible students for the program can be both inclusive and exclusive at the same time. Although selecting just one grade level at a time means students in other grades are excluded (unless the affiliate is able to raise the funds to continue adding grade levels each year), IHDF Programs must take all the students in the selected grade. Selecting an entire grade for each cohort gives every child the same opportunity. Numerous programs exist for children who are exceptionally bright or motivated; many others target students deemed to be at risk of educational failure. IHDF seeks to serve children regardless of abilities, which assures that no child will fall through the cracks and all children can have the opportunity to reach their full potential and the opportunity to realize their individual strengths and interests.
To maintain the benefits of inclusiveness, the Program should add students who join the selected grade level while the Program is still located at one school. The purpose of this practice is to avoid having a handful of students who have moved into the school after the formation being excluded while the vast majority of their classmates are Dreamers. The school’s feeder pattern should be used to determine when the Program is closed to new Dreamers. For instance, if the Dreamers will move on to a new middle school after fifth grade where many other students from other elementary schools will join them, then fifth grade should be the cut off point. The influx of many new students or the dispersal of Dreamers to several schools make the addition of new Dreamers impractical. For planning purposes, the school district should be able to help the Program estimate how many new students may be added to the program before the cut-off date.
Size of a Cohort
Based on experience, 60 to 80 Dreamers is a manageable number for one Program to serve. Programs in excess of this amount should consider hiring a Program Coordinator (or Assistant Program Director) for the group in addition to two to three AmeriCorps members to maintain a 1:15 or 1:20 adult/child ratio. Programs that fall below these parameters should consider ways to boost the number of students in the Program. For instance, if the first grade is small, perhaps all the first and second graders may be sponsored to create a Program of a desirable size. In any case, whenever a single grade level does not satisfy these size parameters, the affiliate should contact the national IHDF Foundation to discuss alternative ways to constitute the cohort.
Here are some additional factors to consider when selecting the Dreamer cohort:
- The total number of years for which the affiliate wants to raise funds for. Taking the kindergarteners requires an additional year of operational expenses than taking the first graders, but it probably offers a greater opportunity to impact the Dreamers’ lives.
- The total number of Dreamers the Program can serve effectively. Sometimes schools have significantly different numbers of students in different grade levels, and sponsoring a cohort earlier in elementary school may result in adding more new students to the identified group at future grade levels.
Once the organizer/new affiliate thinks an appropriate Dreamer group has been identified, he or she should review the selection with the national IHDF Foundation and secure approval.
SERVING AN ENTIRE SCHOOL – Levels of Support
If the intention of an affiliate is to raise the funds to serve an entire school by “stacking” multiple grade levels, then it is suggested that they offer levels of support. There are varied levels of support, depending on the school poverty rates.
For those schools with a lower number of students eligible for FRL, there are three levels of support and services “I Have A Dream” Foundation provides to students in a Dreamer School that support college and career success. Using the following level of services, we can develop prevention and intervention support to assure all students at our Dreamer Campus are on the path to graduate from high school and prepared to pursue post-secondary education and a successful career:
LEVEL 1 – Need Based Support
Students who are eligible for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program receive Level 1 services which include individualized case-management services and an opportunity to earn a post-secondary scholarship through “I Have A Dream”. Services are provided by “I Have A Dream” program staff, AmeriCorps members and community partners. Students and their families receive individualized case management support and direct services, which could include academic tutoring, mentoring, goal setting, crisis intervention, unintended pregnancy prevention services; life skills, and credit retrieval to track and assess student progress.
LEVEL 2 – Grade Level Support
These targeted services and resources are offered to the entire grade level and are provided in a group setting to students. Examples of Level 2 resources or services include academic tutoring, art and music clubs, and other after-school activities on a sliding scale. If resources are available, students who are not eligible for FRL, can receive a scholarship to open a College Savings Account to use towards post-secondary education.
LEVEL 3 – School Wide Support
These support services and resources are designed to foster a positive 1st grade to 1st job (college-career) school culture and address school-level needs. They are short-term interventions that are provided on an as-needed basis. These services or resources are open to all students. Examples of Level 3 resources or services include a “Hall of Dreams” encouraging career paths, motivational speakers for school-wide assemblies, service-learning events (such as MLK and Global Youth Service Days), career & post-secondary education resource fairs, and school-wide anti-bullying programs.
For those schools where most students are eligible for FRL (80% and above), there are two levels of support:
LEVEL 1 – Grade Level Support
Students in an entire grade level who enroll in the Program, receive Level 1 services which include individualized case-management services and an opportunity to earn a post-secondary scholarship through “I Have A Dream”. Services are provided by “I Have A Dream” program staff, AmeriCorps members and community partners. Students and their families receive individualized case management support and direct services, which could include academic tutoring, mentoring, goal setting, crisis intervention, unintended pregnancy prevention services; life skills, and credit retrieval to track and assess student progress.
LEVEL 2 – School Wide Support
These support services and resources are designed to foster a positive 1st grade to 1st job (college-career) school culture and address school-level needs. They are short-term interventions that are provided on an as-needed basis. These services or resources are open to all students. Examples of Level 2 resources or services include a “Hall of Dreams” encouraging career paths, motivational speakers for school-wide assemblies, service-learning events (such as MLK and Global Youth Service Days), career & post-secondary education resource fairs, and school-wide anti-bullying programs.