Like its distinctive mission, the U.S. Dream Academy's program sets it apart from other afterschool and mentoring organizations.
The program starts with this principle: Beyond school, every young person we serve must spend 11 to 15 hours each week in a stimulating learning environment. One-on-one sessions with carefully matched mentors complement afterschool activities that combine academic fundamentals. The focus builds on three pillars – skill-building, character-building, and dream-building. The overall goal is to nurture the whole child while altering attitudes, enhancing self-esteem, supporting emotional and intellectual growth, and sparking dreams.
From our earliest days, the Dream Academy has grounded its program in research and tested it in the field. A recently developed theory of change illustrates the relationship between this design and the outcomes we strive to achieve.
Ongoing research and evaluation helps us determine results and continually strengthen the program. Anecdotal evidence tells us that the Dream Academy also has an important impact on the quality of education and classroom learning, suggesting that our program has the capacity to become a building block for better schools.
The U.S. Dream Academy’s academic excellence is built on three thematic pillars: Skill-building, Character-building, and Dream-building.
1. Skill Building: Academic failure has been shown to be the most important predictor of future incarceration. The core components for this pillar are assistance with homework and online learning. Students use SuccessMaker, a computer-based educational program that focuses on literacy and math instruction.
2. Character Buildingr: Students utilize the Education in Human Values curriculum, a universal, values-based program that lays the foundation for students to understand and apply the five fundamental values of peace, love, truth, right action, and non-violence in their lives.
3. Dream Building: Helps students to broaden their understanding of what their options and opportunities are, while eliminating the possibility of incarceration from their framework of reference. Mentoring plays a part here because mentors act as role models, showing students positive options for their lives.