Sometime within the next few weeks, the new I Have a Dream Foundation in Blaine County is expected to pick some 50 third-graders to become “Dreamers,” students who will participate in a 10-year program to help them achieve academically and later go on to college.
Endorsed by the Blaine County School District board of trustees, the foundation, officially known as “I Have A Dream Foundation—Idaho,” will bring to the Wood River Valley a program more than 30 years old that has helped thousands of lower-income students across the United States obtain college educations.
The I Have a Dream program is now in place in 57 cities in 26 states across the United States. The Blaine County program is the first in Idaho.
“We’re looking to take care of them for the next 15 years.”
I Have A Dream Foundation
The selected students, called “Dreamers,” will represent the entire third-grade class of one of the district’s elementary schools. Through foundation funding, the Dreamers will be provided with mentoring, tutoring and other services to help them through their elementary and secondary years. The foundation also is guaranteeing that it will provide tuition so the Dreamers can go to college.
“We’re looking to take care of them for the next 15 years,” said Stephen Schultz, vice chair of the organization.
Schultz and foundation President Kenneth Lewis explained that there is a need for such a program in Blaine County, where 43 percent of the School District students are on the federally funded free or reduced-price lunch program.
Schultz said there are many students who graduated from high school in the district last year and were accepted into college but were unable to attend because they didn’t have the money for tuition.
“That’s shameful to the Wood River Valley,” he said.
To make the Dreamer dreams come true, the foundation needs money, estimated at about $200,000 per year, with $100,000 for annual operating expenses and $100,000 to be set aside for future college tuitions. The foundation already has about $50,000, which was contributed by Schultz, Lewis and other members of the organization’s board of directors.
“No question about it, it’s a significant promise, but I’m confident we can do it,” Lewis said. “We have 10 years to do it and my past track record says it can be done.”
Lewis announced last week that the foundation has now received 501(c)(3) tax status from the Internal Revenue Service, a provision that allows the foundation to apply for federal grants and that allows contributions to be tax-deductible.
Formation of the local organization was initiated by Lewis, a part-time Blaine County resident who has established successful I Have a Dream programs in Portland, Ore., where he has helped some 800 students obtain a college education.
“People want to donate their money to something that works,” Schultz said. “We got a guy here who knows how to make it work.”
For more information, contact Lewis at 726-6996 or Schultz at 721-3584.
Terry Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org