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U.S. Dream Academy Announces Major Expansion of After-School Mentoring and Technology Training Programs for At-Risk Youth

Resource type: News

U.S. Dream Academy |

$2 million donation by The Atlantic Philanthropies to boost outreach in key cities, establish monitoring system to maximize effectiveness

COLUMBIA, Md., Nov 24, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ — The U.S. Dream Academy, a nationally-recognized after-school education and mentoring program which currently serves more than 800 high-risk students in 11 learning centers in 10 cities, today announced it will more than double its size by adding 15 new centers over the next five years. The U.S. Dream Academy will also establish an ongoing quality assurance system to ensure curriculum consistency among its expanded number of learning centers and to evaluate results in order to maximize effectiveness of its innovative, life-changing programs and even better serve at-risk youth.

Founded by world-renowned vocal artist and education activist Wintley Phipps, the U.S. Dream Academy is dedicated to breaking the cycle of intergenerational incarceration that affects society’s most vulnerable children and youth. It works to empower these youth with academic, social and values enrichment through supportive mentoring and technology training. Working to give children in grades 3 through 8 the skills and vision they need to lead productive and fulfilling lives, the Academy focuses on three elements of youth development which underpin its program philosophy: skills building, character building and dream building.

Since 1998, the U.S. Dream Academy has served more than 2,500 students in some of the highest risk neighborhoods where crime, high incarceration rates, generational poverty, and failing schools are pervasive. Over the past two years, the U.S. Dream Academy has significantly increased its capacity and now serves 820 children at its learning centers in Baltimore, East Orange (NJ), Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis, Orlando, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, and two in Washington, DC.

The U.S. Dream Academy’s five-year plan to expand the availability of its integrated after-school youth programs will be made possible in part by a $2 million grant by The Atlantic Philanthropies that was also announced today. The grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies comes on top of $900,000 in individual and corporate contributions raised earlier this year at the U.S. Dream Academy’s 10-year anniversary gala. In addition, Oprah Winfrey made a $900,000 matching gift, and she has pledged to match up to $500,000 in additional individual contributions to the U.S. Dream Academy through the end of 2008.

“All children deserve and desire a chance to succeed,” said Phipps, the organization’s President and CEO. “We have to do all we can to help guarantee that children of prisoners and at-risk youth have a brighter future. Eliminating barriers to a good education is the first essential step in helping a child to succeed. We are enormously grateful to our supporters for their generous contributions that will enable us to more than double our capacity over the next five years, because we know that a child with a dream is a child with a future.”

Phipps emphasized the urgent need for increased early intervention to save children because:

  • One of every 3 ninth graders in the U.S. drops out of school,

  • High school drop-outs are 8 times more likely to end up in jail or prison than a high school graduate,

  • 80 percent of the inmate population is composed of high school dropouts,

  • More than two-thirds of the juveniles in the criminal justice system are children of prisoners or children with a family member in prison, and

  • A 10 percent increase in the high school graduation rate would reduce the cost of crime by $14 billion.

“We are committed to ensuring that all children and youth, regardless of background, receive the supports that they need to succeed in school and in life. Making certain that young people are offered learning opportunities that will help them develop the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral intelligence that will equip them to participate fully in society is crucial,” said Marcia A. Smith, Vice President at The Atlantic Philanthropies. “We are proud to support expansion of the U.S. Dream Academy’s high-quality after-school programs, which provide at-risk students with academic enrichment and mentoring during the critical out-of-school time hours.”

Contact the U.S. Dream Academy at, 1-800-USDREAM, or 10400 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 300, Columbia, MD 21044.

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