The U.S. Dream Academy is helping our nation's children reach for their dreams. Through academic, social, and values enrichment, we empower those children most at risk of incarceration to believe in themselves and to succeed.
Across the nation, there are millions of young people living in high crime and high poverty communities, who fear they may not live to be an adult. For those young people who also have a parent incarcerated, the future may be even more bleak. For these young people an absent parent, family instability, the stigma and shame of parental incarceration converges with poverty, crime and failing public schools to create a dangerous mix of risk factors that significantly increase a child's chances of school failure and future incarceration. Without an intervention this cycle will continue.
The Dream Academy is committed to stopping this vicious cycle. Through our innovative afterschool and mentoring program, currently operating in 7 cities nationwide, we are transforming children into dreamers who envision and realize their potential. Our research-based programs challenge more than 700 young people and engage them in active learning through one-on-one mentoring, strong academics, and technology-driven activities and curricula.
Our dream – one we invite you to embrace – is to ensure that all children, no matter their start in life, can pursue their own special dreams.
The power of gospel music and his gifted voice have taken the U.S. Dream Academy's founder and CEO, Wintley Phipps, around the world and placed him before audiences that have included the last five Presidents of the United States.
But while performing for inmates – often times young men and women in their early 20s spending the next 10, 15, or 20 years in prison – Phipps found the audience he still considers his most important: young people visiting their incarcerated parents. He saw the hope washed away from their eyes by tears. In its place, there seemed to be nothing – certainly nothing that would prevent them from making their parents' mistakes.
Phipps began to work for the day when he could translate this transformative experience into the U.S. Dream Academy. "After a church concert in Longview, Texas, I shared my vision of the Dream Academy, long before it became a reality," Phipps recalls. "The pastor asked if he could pray for me. He ended his prayer with these words, 'Lord, fill up his eyes with the eyes of the children of prisoners.' Their eyes continue to fill up my eyes, and I remain committed to doing all I can to be a blessing to these vulnerable children."
What began as a dream for Phipps now encompasses the dreams of thousands of elementary and middle school children, sparking the support of national figures such as Oprah Winfrey and former President Bill Clinton, among many others. "So many more have come to see this vision and work diligently to help young children build skills, character, and dreams for their future," says Phipps.