DREAM?s year-round program model builds a strong support network around each participant. And it is a heck of a lot of fun, providing a hook to retain both mentors and participants. The relationship between a child and a caring student mentor is at the heart of our program and has a significant influence on the child. One-on-one activities are tailored to the individual mentee’s needs and interests and are guided by the Search Institute’s ?Developmental Relationships? Framework and the Elements of Effective Practice. These relationships cultivate self-confidence and help to establish new norms through role modeling, caring attention, and positive messages. Relationships between mentor-mentee partners in DREAM average three years, and Summer Enrichment plays a huge role in this. When academic year mentoring is paused over the summer, Summer Enrichment maintains youths’ interest in DREAM from year over year.
Our group programming generates a broad network of caring, educated adults actively involved in each child?s life. The group dynamic also builds a powerful sense of belonging and identity, supporting children in safely pushing their comfort zones, building teamwork, and practicing positive peer interactions. In the summer, groups embark on periodic local and regional adventure trips, introducing them to new experiences and opportunities and providing a conducive environment for strengthening and deepening relationships between youth and Summer Enrichment Coordinators, as well as relationships between one another.
DREAM engages mentees for the long-term, starting with children in kindergarten and growing with them through high school graduation. By the time a DREAM participant graduates high school, she will likely have had over 10 years with the organization. This longitudinal intervention provides sustained contact with caring adults and a constant pipeline of meaningful experiences and opportunities.
Summers are a particularly important focus for us at DREAM. Our children often lack basic enrichment activities and adequate nutrition over the summer. Many of them spend significant time in unsafe and unsupervised spaces, missing out on important opportunities for growth. The summer opportunity gap (and related summer developmental slide) has very real short-term and long-term effects on youths? academics, health, and behavior, and it accounts for almost half of the achievement gap between our DREAMers and their peers. To help close this gap, we offer three programming opportunities over the summer: 1) daily onsite summer enrichment programming; 2) week-long residential summer camp sessions at Camp DREAM; and 3) regional adventure trips.