The DREAM Program partners with public housing authorities to break the cycle of poverty with children in low-income communities. The DREAM Program recruits, screens, trains, and supports student volunteers from local colleges and universities to create mentoring partnerships between the student volunteers and the children in these communities. The DREAM Program and the public housing authority share a philosophical commitment, as well as human, physical, and financial resource commitments to the quality and sustainability of the partnership.
Weekly Mentoring Program—Children ages 5-13 from the community are paired with college student volunteers in one-to-one, consistent, long-term relationships. Each week, students bring the children in the program to their college campus for a combination of group and one-to-one activities. Group activities are age-appropriate, and the individual activities are tailored to the specific needs and interests of each child in the program.
Culminating Experiences—The weekly mentoring program builds to a culminating experience at the end of each season. Culminating experiences can take many forms such as a group day of skiing, a field day, or a trip to Boston. Culminating experiences are something that children and mentors look forward to and enhance important skills such as goal setting and delaying gratification.
Summer Program—The summer High Adventure program is the biggest culminating experience of all. Groups of nine children and four college students work together to fundraise and prepare for a two-week trip to Colorado and Southern Utah each summer. The staff of The DREAM Program plans the trips’ itinerary and curriculum, provides trip leader training, and runs support during the trips. All children in DREAM ages ten and up have the opportunity to earn their way to a summer High Adventure each year.
Since January of 1999, the DREAM partnership between the residents of the Templeton Court Apartments and students from Dartmouth College has exceeded all expectations. DREAM has consistently maintained 100 percent participation from the children ages 5-13 at Templeton and has always maintained a surplus of mentors for one-to-one relationships with the children. There are now over 70 mentoring pairs in this program. DREAM has participated in projects such as installing a basketball hoop at Templeton and has organized trips such as a four-day trip excursion to Washington D.C. to meet President Bush. In March of 2002, The DREAM Program also started a partnership with the Winooski Housing Authority to create a program that matches children from the Elm Street Apartments to students at the University of Vermont. A group of 15 students met with the children six times before the end of the school year, and they are looking to start strong again in the fall!