Dreamer Enrollment, Policies & Procedures

Each “I Have A Dream” affiliate sets forth a policy for the selection of youth participants in a Dreamer Cohort. Once funding is secured for a new cohort of Dreamers (referred to sometimes as a “Class”), typically approximately 60 children from low-income backgrounds are identified with the assistance of local school districts and housing-authority personnel.  The housing authorities and/or school districts help identify a site with significant need, and the appropriate grade level or age span that will include approximately 60 children.  The youth either qualify for free or reduced lunch or live in low-income housing. 

  • For a school-based Cohort, a letter is sent to all the parents in the grade level identified (typically 1st grade), inviting all parents/guardians of students who qualify for free & reduced lunch to attend a parent information meeting to learn about the Dreamer program.  The Class Program Director then conducts a home visit, and the parents and Dreamers sign agreements to join the program.  
  • In a housing-based Cohort, a letter is sent to all the parents of children in the age span identified for the Cohort (typically 1-3 years apart and younger than 4th grade), who live in the low-income housing site, and invite them to a parent information meeting to learn about the program.  The Program Director then conducts a home visit, and the parents and Dreamers sign agreements to join the program.  

Over the years, we have learned that taking time to inform parents and children of the nature of the “I Have A Dream” Foundation’s programming, gar­nering their support, and starting to build relationships prior to the public kickoff (Dedication Ceremony) creates a strong foundation for Dreamer success. 

Welcome Letter

We recommend writing a letter to the parents of all the eligible children introducing the “I Have A Dream” Program and inviting them to attend an informational meeting to learn more about the opportunity. Someone familiar or recognizable to the parents should sign the letter along with the Lead Sponsor to lend legitimacy to this outreach. In school­ based Programs, it is often the school principal. In housing-based Programs, it may be representatives of all the primary partners, including the housing authority. 

These letters may also be fol­lowed by personal telephone calls or visits to invite the parents to attend meetings that can answer any preliminary questions. Always keep in mind that the “I Have A Dream” Foundation is a new entity to the parents so enlist the help of people the parents know-school employees, commu­nity center staff, or members of the tenants’ association-to spread the word about the program and ease parents’ concerns about its intentions and legitimacy. The Program Director is a great help in this initial outreach since he or she is often a member of the com­munity that the Dreamers live in.

Sample Recruitment Letter to Dreamer Families

Dear Family Partners,

We are pleased and excited to announce that Columbine Elementary School, the Boulder Housing Partners, and the “I Have a Dream” Foundation of Boulder County (“I Have A Dream”) are launching a new Dreamer Class in Boulder in 2015. 

“I Have a Dream” works with the community to identify groups of children from low-income families to participate in a long-term program of mentoring, tutoring, and enrichment.  The program is designed to empower and motivate these children, called “Dreamers” to reach their college and career goals.  Upon high school graduation, each Dreamer is eligible to receive a last-dollar tuition-assistance scholarship of up to $2,500 per year for four years to use toward college or vocational school.  In addition, “I Have a Dream” will provide programs and support services through high school and into post-secondary, to help the Dreamers achieve their goals.  “I Have A Dream” brings resources that enrich the entire learning community of which the Dreamers are a part.

“I Have A Dream” will be offering this program to 60 children, who are currently in the second grade at Columbine Elementary School, and who qualify for free or reduced lunch.

We will host the following parent and child orientation meetings in the Columbine Elementary Library, for families who qualify (you need attend only one meeting).

Tuesday, February 25, 5:30 p.m.

Thursday February 27, 5:30 p.m.

To RSVP or for more information about “I Have A Dream,” please contact: Principal or Program Director



Chief Executive Officer                             Principal                                

“I Have A Dream”                                       (INSERT) Elementary

Parent Orientation Meetings

Parent orientation meetings give families a chance to learn about “I Have A Dream” and the opportunity to enroll their child. It is nice to offer at least two times to choose from to accommodate parent work schedules.The meetings include an introduction to any core Affiliate and Program staff, as well as a question and answer time. It may also include an introductory video or the sharing of any other informational materials about the day-to-day activities of the Program. If possible, having a parent and/or older Dreamer from another cohort or Affiliate attend and share their experiences in the program is very powerful and helps ease some of the concerns parents might have about signing up for the program.

Enrollment Packet

Once the introductions and the agenda is covered at the parent orientation meetings (or individual orientation parent meeting), enrollment packets are given to eligible parents/caregivers to enroll their child.  The only criteria is low-income status, either being a student in the grade level (for those Affiliates with a high percentage of FRL), low-income status as demonstrated by qualification for the school free and reduced lunch program (at schools with a disparity of income levels), or for being a resident of low-income housing.  However, the families invited to enroll will be defined by the school or housing site chosen, and the grade level(s) targeted.  It is important that we not be seen as selecting individual children.  Rather, we identify a pocket of need that includes roughly the number of Dreamers funded in the new Cohort, and enroll all who fit that definition.

Any new Program Director should review and become familiar with the enrollment packet, and in particular, with the Agreement between parents/Dreamers and “I Have A Dream” and all the various consent forms. Program staff should also be familiar with  the policies regarding Dreamer Enrollment, Dreamer Replacement, and with the definitions and processes for including Dreamer Guests in programming.

The Enrollment Packet includes:

At the home visit, the Program Director will work with the Dreamer and family to create an initial Dreamer Success Plan (goal-setting), and a photographer will get headshots of each new Dreamer for the program’s records (at the Dedication Ceremony).

Dreamer Enrollment Policy

“I Have A Dream” Foundation strives to serve as many low-income youth as possible, within limited resources.  The ultimate goal for “Dreamer Scholars” is to achieve academic success, pursue post-secondary education, and attain a meaningful career.  

Launching a New Cohort
  1. Secure funding for program and administrative costs for the life of a Cohort before launch.
  2. Identify a Cohort Site.
    1. Partner with a Housing Authority or School District
      1. Select a housing site or school for a new Cohort site, based on need and partnerships.
      2. Secure adequate physical space for both program and administrative needs.
      3. Invite parents to attend informational meetings.  Families must be low-income as reflected by eligibility for low-income housing and/or the school Free and/or Reduced Lunch program.  
      4. Enroll a group of 60 children in the same grade or two (school-based) or within three years of one another (housing-based); ideally before the start of 3rd grade.
Dreamer Guests
  1. Once programming has been established, extend program participation to other students (Dreamer Guests), expanding our reach to additional students in need and effectively utilizing our resources.
    1. As space, staffing and financial resources allow, Program Directors may approve participation of:
      1. Students in the same grade level  (This is done to both provide services to more youth, and to be inclusive of and/or partner with the surrounding community.); and
      2. Siblings of current Dreamers.  
    2. Guests are required to agree to and abide by all the expectations of being a Dreamer.
    3. Dreamer Guests benefit from programs, but are not promised a scholarship.
    4. Parents complete all enrollment forms, except the Agreement/scholarship-promise forms.
Dreamer Replacement
  1. Some Dreamers move away from the area and lose contact with us after enrollment.  The current Agreement states that if a Dreamer does not participate consistently, over an 12 month period, or moves away without staying in contact with “I Have A Dream” at least once a year, they will forfeit their program spot & scholarship, and will be replaced by another student.  Replacement Dreamers are selected within guidelines:
    1. The student must meet the criteria for free and reduced lunch, and be within the age range of the existing Dreamers in the Class, or be a sibling of a current Dreamer.  
    2. Priority is given to students who are Dreamer Guests and are in good standing in the program.
  2. For those Dreamers who move away from the feeder school system, we match them with a private tutor, mentor or have them attend another “I Have A Dream” program in their area, if available.  They also continue to receive at least quarterly contact with their Program Director.  
Expanding the Dream
  1. In keeping with goals toward the judicious use of resources, and to play a strong role as a partner in the communities where sites are based, “I Have A Dream” makes every effort to expand the reach of available resources to as many children and families as possible within our mission.  “I Have A Dream” staff work as integral members of the communities where they serve.  As resources are procured by or offered to “I Have A Dream,” they are shared with others in the community.