After DREAM’s successful launch of its first regional office outside of Vermont, we knew that our unique Village Mentoring model could be replicated in other cities across the region. Lucky for us, we had quite a few DREAM Alumni move to the city of brotherly love. Not only were they smitten with our fair city, but they immediately saw the need for DREAM in Philadelphia. Currently, 39% of Philadelphia children live in poverty. The city has also had the unfortunate distinction of being one of the most violent cities. According to a 2014 report released by the Mayor’s Office, 248 Philadelphians were murdered in the streets, with young adults (24 years or less) bearing the brunt of this violence.
Fortunate for DREAM, there also happen to be over 40 colleges and universities in and around the city. DREAM began to lay the foundation in 2013 and officially launched programming in Philadelphia in the spring of 2014, drawing college mentors from Temple University and The University of Pennsylvania and partnering with three low-income communities: Fairhill Apartments, Westpark Apartments and Cecil B. Moore Village.
Since then, “the little program that could” has grown exponentially! We currently operate at 4 housing sites in North and West Philadelphia, providing year-round critical mentoring services to 107 of the cities most vulnerable youth. We engage over 90 college student volunteers and have launched two new initiatives, our teen “Mentor-In-Training” internship and DREAM KWEENZ, a girls empowerment program.
We have secured our foundation in Philadelphia and have built strong roots in the communities we are fortunate enough to serve. We also have big DREAMs and are aiming to launch programming at additional communities in Philadelphia, Camden, NJ and Chester, PA, ensuring more deserving youth and college mentors are able to be a part of this amazing organization!