DREAM was founded in January of 1999 and was operated entirely by
student volunteers from Dartmouth College and the nearby Templeton
Court Apartments (in White River Junction). In November of 2001 it
became an independent non-profit organization.
Today, DREAM supports over 400 mentoring pairs spread out over 22 local programs and 13 colleges throughout Vermont and the Greater Boston area.
DREAM is Born
The program traces its origins to 1998 when Kathryn Ross, an AmeriCorps member, was charged with the duty of providing after-school programming for the close to 100 children living at the Templeton Court Apartments, a Section 8 housing development. Kathryn connected with students attending Dartmouth, who quickly organized themselves into a weekly mentoring program that became known as DREAM (Directing through Recreation, Education, Adventure, and Mentoring).
By May of 1999, the program consisted of more than 30 mentoring pairs who undertook bold adventures together. Over the next two years, they planned and raised money to travel to Boston, Colorado, Montreal, and Washington DC. These trips laid the foundation for DREAM’s High Adventure program. DREAM's famous yellow and blue t-shirts were born as a safety precaution for keeping track of the 60 participants on their first big trip Boston together.
Taking Root in Vermont
Many of the original mentors graduated in 2001, and two of the graduates decided to found a non-profit organization with a vision to have loving adults be meaningfully involved in children’s lives. They wanted to provide experiences that would allow DREAM’s youth to be well positioned to achieve their dreams. That and have fun.
New programs were started with the University of Vermont, Champlain College, St. Michael's College, and nearby communities. To address the need for summer and winter programming while mentors were on break, DREAMhired interns to provide summer programs in the communities, and purchased land in Fletcher, Vermont, which became Camp DREAM. Camp offered summer and winter adventure experiences. By 2006, year-round programming provided a constant mentoring presence in the lives of DREAM youth.
Growth Beyond Vermont
With a local program established at nearly every major college in Vermont,
DREAM opened its doors in Boston in 2009 with two local programs:
Boston University and the Orchard Gardens community; and Northeastern
University and the Madison Park community. The program's successful
adaptation from rural to urban setting was equally significant. More recently, we opened
our doors in Philadelphia, now with over 100 children. We have always had the vision to share
our exceptional program with as many others as we can reach in a way that maintains
the quality of the DREAM experience. We look forward to discovering more ways to provide
youth opportunities in the future!