Our Network Terminology

Affiliate: Local members of the “I Have A Dream” Foundation network. Each affiliate is its own 501(c)3, is governed by its own staff and board under the terms of the National “I Have A Dream” Foundation licensing agreement, and operates one or more program(s).

Affiliate Board of Directors: A core group of volunteer (unpaid) community representatives such as educators, accountants, lawyers, social workers, nonprofit managers, businesspeople, and Dreamer parents who govern the IHDF Program. Typical board functions include fundraising, volunteer recruitment, professional services, long-term strategic planning, and financial management.

Affiliate Leader: The chief officer of an “I Have A Dream” Foundation affiliate, which is its own 501c3. The Affiliate Leader may use the title of Chief Executive Officer or Executive Director, and may oversee a number of Program Directors depending on an affiliate’s size and geographic reach. The Affiliate Leader is accountable to their Board of Directors and is responsible for ensuring that their affiliate complies with the policies and procedures required as part of the national “I Have A Dream” network.

Alumnus: A Dreamer Scholar who graduated from a postsecondary program or is beyond their expected four-year college graduation date, whichever comes sooner. May be still connected to the program, program director, or funder (“sponsor”) but is no longer receiving formal K-16 programming from their affiliate. Being a part of the alumni community means access to National Alumni programs and events. Because we are providing programming through postsecondary, we should no longer refer to Dreamer Scholars as “alums” when they graduate high school.

Dreamer Scholar: A student/young person served by, or alumnus of, an “I Have A Dream” Foundation program. The term was originated by founder Eugene M. Lang as inspired by the historic speech by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to embody the hope and aspirations of this generation, and to emphasize the importance of creating opportunities for all children, regardless of socioeconomic status. While the DREAM act has led to the rise of another type of DREAMer over recent years, this is coincidental. While some of our students do have DACA status, this is not the case for all Dreamer Scholars.

Funder, Primary Funder, or Investor: While the IHDF network is moving towards a more diversified funding model than in the past, affiliates or programs may still rely on key individuals or institutional funders (sometimes referred to as “Sponsor, Dreamer Scholar Sponsor or Dreamer Class Sponsor”) to support their programs. 

IHDF: The acronym signifying the “I Have A Dream” Foundation. Affiliates are identified by location (eg IHDF – New York, IHDF – Boulder, etc.)

National “I Have A Dream” Foundation: The central office of the “I Have A Dream” Foundation, which is responsible for growing impact by supporting the launch of new affiliates, increasing brand awareness, establishing best practices, and measuring impact. The national office supports affiliates every step of the way by providing shared tools and infrastructure.

Program: A group of children who join an “I Have A Dream” Foundation affiliate at the same time and/or in the same setting, also referred to as a cohort. Programs are modeled in a way that is adaptive to their setting—for example, they may include a full class, grade, school, or public housing development.

Program Director: A full-time, paid staff person who typically has a background in social work and/or education. This person has daily contact with Dreamer Scholars and is responsible for the day-to-day coordination of the Program’s activities. The PD is a skilled professional who considers working with young people a calling.

Program Sponsor: One of the terms used to describe a funder who supports the start of a new cohort of Dreamers. The term “adopt” was previously commonly used, but should be avoided due to its patronizing nature.  

Affiliate Leader: The chief officer of an “I Have A Dream” Foundation affiliate, which is its own 501c3. The Affiliate Leader may use the title of Chief Executive Officer or Executive Director, and may oversee a number of Program Directors depending on an affiliate’s size and geographic reach. Each Affiliate Leader is accountable to their Board of Directors and is responsible for ensuring that the affiliate complies with the policies and procedures required by the national “I Have A Dream” network.

Programmatic Terminology

Grit: the determination and drive necessary to stay focused and persist in the face of obstacles and adversity.

Growth Mindset: the belief that intelligence and skills can be developed through hard work and practice.

Academic self-confidence or self-efficacy: the conviction that one can successfully execute the behaviors required to produce academic results.

Social Competence: the ability to develop and maintain interpersonal relationships with others.

Educational Equity: An outcome where all children are given access to the resources needed to reach their full potential, regardless of obstacles like economic status, race, or gender. “Equity” differs from “equality” in that “equality” implies that all resources are distributed evenly, while “equity” includes individualized assistance and support for those who need additional resources in order to learn and thrive.

National Program Initiatives

In addition to technical support, we provide access to nationwide programming, ranging from shared curricula and college immersion programs to mentorship and alumni support. 

Alumni Connections:  Over 20,000 Dreamer Scholars have participated in “I Have A Dream” Foundation programs and have gone on to complete college and/or join the workforce.  Alumni Connections is an initiative that (re)engages IHDF alumni in order to build a strong national community of IHDF ambassadors and contributors, to connect alumni to a network of their peers, to offer ongoing professional & personal development services and to provide opportunities to engage with younger Dreamer Scholars.  The Alumni Connections initiative includes the following programs:

  • A series of online professional and personal development workshops
  • A National Alumni Advisory Council chaired by the National IHDF Board of Directors alumni representative
  • An annual Alumni Day of Giving solicitation campaign

Building Wellness Program: An 8-level youth health literacy curriculum series that offers 15 lessons per level targeting grades 1-8. This free resource teaches students the skills they need to be active participants in their health care through experiential learning that is aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Developed under the Eugene M. Lang Foundation, Building Wellness is now owned and operated by the “I Have A Dream” Foundation.

DREAM College Savings Accounts Program: The “I Have A Dream” Foundation DREAM College Savings Accounts Program combines a low-cost college savings account with an evidence based set of college access and success milestones and a robust post-secondary financial literacy curriculum. Through our DREAM College Savings Accounts Program, students earn College Savings Account contributions by completing critical, grade-based academic and social milestones on the path to and through college. The DREAM Accounts Program reinforces a culture of college, provides families and Dreamer Scholars with financial literacy, education and offsets the costs of college tuition and supplies.

Service Learning & Civic Engagement Initiatives:  Throughout the year and in between Dream UP events, Dreamer Scholars receive and can participate in a suite of Dreamer Scholar Community Initiatives.  These initiatives are designed to further cultivate a national Dreamer Scholar culture and identity, to connect Dreamer Scholars across the network and to support and amplify the “to and through” programming being offered by Affiliates.  Programs include:

  • Dreamer Town Halls
  • College Signing Day
  • Service Days
    • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr Day
    • Global Youth Service Day

Dreamer Scholars Critical Needs Fund: Growing evidence reveals that both low-income communities and people of color are among those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; groups that fit the majority of the demographic we serve. Ninety-one percent of our Dreamers come from families who qualify for free or reduced school lunches and 85% of Dreamers identify as Latino or Black. To that end, we have formed the Dreamer Scholars Critical Needs Fund to meet our Dreamers’ urgent needs. The Dreamer Scholars Critical Needs Fund would be distributed directly to current and past Dreamer Scholars and their families in the form of quick turn around $300-$500-dollar micro-grants. The focus of this fund is to meet the Dreamer Scholars’ most immediate needs, including food, shelter, medical care, and income.

Dream UP (University Prep) Program: An annual college immersion program serving Dreamers from 7th grade through college. Dream UP gives Dreamers the opportunity to take part in workshops on college campuses among their peers, experiencing college life and learning related skills.

Great Expectations Program:  In the 2019-2020 academic year, The “I Have A Dream” Foundation (IHDF) launched Great Expectations, focused on the college success of students from under-resourced communities. We have learned that these students (“Dreamers”) need support not just in getting to college, but also through college. Our programs are informed by evidence- and research-backed postsecondary success strategies that fit the needs of their specific Dreamers to increase college persistence and success.

Opportunity Network’s Career Fluency® program is a best-in-class college and career success curriculum for students in grades 9 through 16. National IHDF and Opportunity Network have partnered to bring this curriculum to the network. At the core of the curriculum and approach is the belief that strengthening a young person’s college to career connection is not only necessary for success after college, but is a driver of college persistence and success.  The curriculum comprises four pillars:

    • College Transition and Success
    • Career Awareness and Exposure
    • Professional Etiquette and Skills
    • Networks and Social Capital

Inspire the Dream Mentoring Program: A program that provides one-to-one volunteers to serve as Community-Based, School-Based Mentors and Group Mentors to ensure Dreamer Scholars have positive adult role models.

Building the Dream Internship Program (BTD): This career-readiness program facilitates the placement of Dreamer Scholars at internship opportunities that are directly correlated with their academic pursuits and career ambitions. The goals of the Building the Dream Internship Program are to provide first-hand experience in the workplace, create and expand professional social networks, enhance college resumes, and to expand industry knowledge and explore interests. As part of the competitive application process for admittance to BTD, Dreamer Scholars must submit a resume and cover letter as well as participate in a first round interview before the applicant is referred to our partner organizations and corporations. Before placement, Dreamer Scholars participate in a professional development boot-camp and after placement there is consistent communication throughout the summer to ensure an effective and productive internship experience for all parties. 


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