Founded in 1981, “I Have A Dream” provides comprehensive support to students in low-income communities from elementary school through to graduation. Everything from tutoring to mentoring to counseling and a myriad of other support services and enrichment activities are provided. The end goal is to help the students reach post-secondary school and break the cycle of poverty.
The Foundation works with several schools in Clark County, including 85 eighth-grade students at West Prep Academy in Las Vegas, and the results have been nothing short of remarkable. The West Prep “Dreamers”—as the students are called—achieved a 35 percent increase in their grades last year and disciplinary actions fell by 80 percent.
Lindsay Harper, Executive Director of “I Have A Dream” in Southern Nevada, credits donors such as Barrick for the organization’s success.
“Because donor dollars are very slim these days, we like to show where our students started academically and where they finished,” she says. “We can have these great ideas and meet community needs from a programming standpoint, but without the support and funds from companies like Barrick, none of these life-changing programs would be possible.”
Watch Harper talk about working with Barrick:
Carlos Rodriguez, an eighth-grade student at West Prep Academy, was always a straight-A student, but that changed when he entered middle school. He began acting out and making poor choices. His grades fell. “I was getting Bs and Cs and getting into trouble a lot,” he says.
Rodriguez was part of the “I Have A Dream” class, but dropped out mid-way through sixth grade. Still, despite opting out, he showed up regularly at the Foundation’s learning center at West Prep.
When seventh grade began, he rejoined the program. He began participating in community service. He helped the Three Square Food Bank pack snacks for local students who couldn’t afford lunches, bagging 4,000 pounds of plums. He took on a mentor, a sergeant from the U.S. Air Force, who is helping Rodriguez work towards his goal of serving in the military. His grades have recovered and he’s even committed to scoring the highest grade-point average in the West Prep Dreamers’ class.
“I want to attend college,” he says, “and then I want to enlist in the marines, get a high rank, retire and live my life.”
Blanca Machuca is proof positive of the profound impact that the “I Have A Dream” Foundation can make in the lives of the students that it supports. Machuca was part of the initial cohort of Dreamers in Las Vegas in 1996. The Foundation’s support helped her graduate from high school and go to college. She was the first in her family to do so.
Today, Machuca works as a coordinator for the “I Have A Dream” Foundation in Las Vegas. The organization played a critical role in her life, and she appreciates having the opportunity to do the same for a new generation of Dreamers. She weeps happily after listening to several West Prep students share their stories with visitors from Barrick.
“We don’t usually do this, and I totally get what they’re taking away from the program, and that’s what I love about it,” she says. “I should’ve worn water-proof make-up today.”