Dream Foundation Seeks Volunteers

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By: Terry Smith
Express Staff Writer

After-school program planned for Woodside Elementary

The I Have a Dream Foundation of Idaho is looking for volunteers to assist with an after-school tutoring and mentoring program at Woodside Elementary School in south Hailey.
The foundation, last school year, adopted the entire Woodside third-grade class of 50 students as “Dreamers.” As Dreamers, the foundation has promised to assist them in achieving academically so that they can eventually graduate from high school and later go on to college. The foundation has further promised the Dreamers that it will fund two years of community college for them.
Those students will be fourth-graders this school year. Project Coordinator Kelly Ortego said some of the Dreamers need assistance now. The after-school program will start on Sept. 16 and will run from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Ortego said the volunteers should be prepared to assist the students on those days.
“Any adults who want to come in and read with kids, just give me a call,” Ortego said.
She can be reached at (208) 450-9466.

To read this article in the Mountain Express, click HERE

Women’s Foundation Doles Out Grants

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By: Jennifer Liebrum
Express Staff Writer

Organization gathers to give back to community

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The Wood River Women’s Charitable Foundation engages women in the power of collective giving. It is a membership organization of 163 women who pool talents and funds in support of local nonprofit organizations.
The mission is to inspire and educate women to become leaders in philanthropy and to bring significant, positive change to the community by pooling and distributing its members’ resources.
Board member Carol Scheifele-Holmes said the group proudly hit the $1 million in giving mark following the grants that were announced at a meeting held at the Valley Club north of Hailey Tuesday, Aug. 6:
l The Advocates’ and St. Luke’s Center for Community Health will share $25,000 for the Youth Engagement and Leadership Project, which will offer local youth opportunities for leadership and real employment experience by participating in building and maintaining a healthy community.
l The Blaine County Education Foundation got $5,000 to provide funding for extra classes to assist students who are struggling with core academics and life skills. l The Blaine County Education Foundation is also a participant in a joint grant. The other partners are The Community School and Nurture. The purpose of the $35,000 grant to these three partners is to give children the knowledge and skills necessary to make better decisions about food and nutrition.
l The Blaine County Senior Council’s grant of $8,200 will provide scholarships for low-income participants in The Connection Club, which provides enriching activities and stimulation for those dealing with Alzheimer’s, dementia, aphasia and brain trauma, while providing a respite to their families and other care-givers.
l The Crisis Hotline received $6,000 to underwrite educational and volunteer training programs.
l The Flourish Foundation got $10,000 to go toward the Mindful Awareness Program, in order to expand the program into middle and high schools, and to evaluate the effectiveness of programs.
l Girls On The Run’s $5,000 grant will provide scholarship assistance, fund the showing of issue-based films, provide training and assess psychological and physical development among girls third to fifth grades.
l The Hunger Coalition’s $12,000 for the “From the Garden to the Table” series will fund workshops and projects focused on nutrition and life skills through growing, cooking and preserving foods utilizing The Hope Garden in Hailey.
l I Have A Dream Foundation’s $25,000 will help in underwriting the first year of their commitment toward sending approximately 50 under-resourced students, who are currently in the third grade, to college.
l Planned Parenthood’s received $25,000 to fund the startup and pilot of a Teen Council Program in Blaine County, which will consolidate and build upon existing educational programs and employ a local community educator.
l Wood River Community YMCA’s $7,500 will go toward the Make a Splash program, which teaches basic swimming and water-safety skills to third graders.

To read this article in the Mountain Express, click HERE

Dream Foundation Hires Coordinator

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By: Terry Smith
Express Staff Writer

Job entails helping 50 Woodside students make it to college

The I Have a Dream Foundation of Idaho announced last week that the organization has hired a project coordinator to help 50 Woodside Elementary School students succeed scholastically and eventually go to college.
Organization founder Ken Lewis said Kelly Ortego was hired for the job on July 1.
“I feel very honored that I got chosen for this,” Ortego said in an interview Friday. “I think it’s a very good idea. There’s a lot of children who need help and this program provides it.”
The I Have a Dream Foundation announced in February that it had taken the entire third-grade class of 50 students at Woodside and made them into “dreamers.” The foundation will assist them throughout their elementary and secondary school years and has guaranteed to provide them with funding for a two-year community college education.
Ortego’s job will be to help the students succeed academically so that they can realize college aspirations.
“I’ve already met 30 of the dreamers,” Ortego said, explaining that she has already taken the students on a field trip. “I will be following them from the third grade until they are out of high school.”
Ortego, 38, is a certified teacher. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in elementary education.
“I changed my career a few years ago because I wanted to get into education,” she said.
Ortego has lived in the Wood River Valley for about a year. She said she moved here because “I was really wanting to get back to a mountain community.”

To read this article in the Mountain Express, click HERE

Foundation Selects 50 Woodside Dreamers

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By: Terry Smith
Express Staff Writer

Third-Graders promised help with school and future college tuition

The newly formed I Have a Dream Foundation of Idaho has taken the entire third-grade class of Woodside Elementary School under its wing, promising to help the kids with their studies so they can graduate from high school and guaranteeing all 50 of them two-year community college scholarships.
“I’ve been in education for 25 years and this is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen for kids,” Blaine County School District Superintendent Lonnie Barber said in an interview prior to the announcement to the third-graders at the school Friday.
Finishing elementary school and high school and going on to college has long been a theme at Woodside Elementary. The I Have a Dream Foundation stated that it is committed to making that a reality, regardless of a student’s financial situation.
“Our goal is to help you realize your dreams,” said Ken Lewis, founder of the Idaho organization, in announcing the promises. “From now on, we’re going to call you Dreamers. “We want you to go to college, and me and my friends here, we will provide a two-year community school scholarship to every one of you.”
Lewis’ friends are the 10-member board of directors of the nonprofit Idaho foundation, which was organized only last summer.
I Have a Dream Foundations are not new. The program is in place in 57 cities in 26 states. But the Woodside Elementary program is the first in Idaho.
Lewis, a part-time Wood River Valley resident, has been involved in I Have a Dream Foundations in Portland, Ore., where he has helped some 800 students achieve college educations.
For the Woodside students, in addition to providing scholarships, the foundation will hire a project coordinator to assist the 50 students with their studies and to work with their teachers and parents to help them make it through school.
“That’s a two-and-a-half million-dollar commitment over the next 14 years,” foundation Co-Vice Chair Stephen Shultz said in an interview. “So we need help.”
Lewis and Shultz reported that donations are already pouring in. They said the foundation hopes to raise about $200,000 a year, with $100,000 going to annual operating expenses and $100,000 to be set aside for future college tuitions.
Friday’s announcement was met with enthusiasm by students and staff at Woodside Elementary in south Hailey. The assembly seemed like a pep rally for college education, with students participating in cheers led by teachers and Principal Brad Henson.
“I can’t wait to see what each and every one of you is going to become,” Henson said. “I know you guys are going to become great. You can be anything you want to be, but you’ve got to work hard to accomplish your mission.
“You’re going to take over this world, and I feel great that you’re going to be taking care of me.”
Barber told the students that “you’re going to get a chance to learn more than you ever thought. You’re going to get a special gift today that no one else is going to get. But you have to work for it.”

New board members

The foundation recently announced that it has five new board members who join the original five members who organized the foundation last summer.
New board members are Dori Madsen, an educational therapist and former executive director of the Southern Idaho Learning Center; Sheila Mells, a civil rights attorney and court-appointed special advocate for children, women and animals; Erin Pfaeffle, manager of St. Luke’s Center for Community Health and a board member of the Blaine County Community Drug Coalition; Wendy Ruiz, a Head Start employee and Hispanic community activist; and Dolores Vega, Shoshone support group leader with the Advocates of Survivors of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
Original board members include Lewis, who serves as president and treasurer and is a former shipping executive; Shultz, a businessman who serves as co-vice chair; and Reginald Reeves, the foundation chair who is also an attorney and chair of the Sun Valley Charitable Foundation; Carol Harlig, who serves as co-vice chair and is the founder of the Guardian Angel Scholarship program; and Al Hackel, who serves as secretary and is a pediatric surgeon and professor emeritus of Stanford Medical School.
Lewis said all 10 of the board members have already contributed to the foundation. He said the board intends that other I Have a Dream Foundation groups be organized in Blaine County.
“We hope this is the first of many such Dreamer classes in the valley,” Lewis said.

To read this article in the Mountain Express, click HERE

Foundation To Pick 50 Student Dreamers

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By: Terry Smith
Express Staff Writer

I Have A Dream group guarantees college tuition for third-graders

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.
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.

To read this article in the Mountain Express, click HERE

Making Students Dreams Come True

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By: Gregory Foley
Express Staff Writer

I Have A Dream Foundation Idaho coming to the Wood River Valley

For three decades, the “I Have A Dream” program has helped thousands of students from lower-income families realize their dream of going to college or university unencumbered by the ever-rising costs of tuition. Soon, some 40 young students in Blaine County will be offered the same opportunity.
Part-time Wood River Valley resident Kenneth Lewis and several other dedicated locals have established a new nonprofit organization called the “I Have A Dream” Foundation—Idaho, which intends to “adopt” a group of elementary-school children in Blaine County and put them on track to a paid-for tenure in higher education.
“This is about giving students access to higher education,” Lewis said. “And we’ve seen that there is a population of children in Blaine County who aren’t getting the help they need and aren’t moving on to college.”
Lewis—a longtime businessman in maritime trade who splits his time between Idaho and Portland, Ore.—started a successful “I Have A Dream” program in Portland that has supported more than 900 low-income students, which the organization calls “Dreamers.” The Oregon organization founded the first rural “I Have A Dream” program, in which most of the Dreamers are children of migrant farm workers. Lewis said that in the last Portland class to complete the program, 90 percent graduated high school and 80 percent went to college.
Now, Lewis and his partners have set the foundation to do similar work in Blaine County. Lewis, president of the new Idaho “I Have A Dream” organization, and board Vice Chair Stephen Schultz have garnered the support of some well-known Blaine County residents to bring the project to fruition. They are serving on the board of directors along with valley residents Al Hackel, Carol Harlig, Beverly Reeves and Reginald Reeves. The group is looking for five more interested people to serve on the board.
The organization plans to announce next month which grade from a Blaine County school they have chosen to adopt based on its needs.
“It’s not just an emotional decision,” Schultz said. “We want to take the neediest school, and there are metrics to help make the right selection.”
After that, the organization will commit to assisting the children in various ways to help them through school and dramatically raise the odds that they will complete high school and move on to higher education. Program leaders cooperate with School District officials, businesses, religious organizations and civic groups to provide Dreamers with the academic and social services they need to succeed. Upon high school graduation, each Dreamer receives guaranteed tuition assistance for higher education. The foundation plans to hire a full-time project coordinator in Blaine County to manage the work.
To do that, the organization needs to raise $2.5 million in increments of some $250,000 per year for 10 years. Lewis and Schultz have each committed $10,000 a year for 10 years and hope other philanthropists will match their donations. All told, the group has raised more than $50,000 to get the program up and running.
“We make the financial commitment up front,” Schultz said. “We’re not going to pull the rug out from under these kids.”
And, Schultz said, the need is clear. The “I Have A Dream” Foundation estimates that only half of students in low-income communities in the United States are expected to finish high school and only one out of seven will graduate from college.
“They have to buy in,” Schultz said. ” But if they do, we can help them.”

How to get involved

There are several ways that interested people can help the new “I Have a Dream” Foundation of Idaho, based in the Wood River Valley. The nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization is seeking monetary contributions to support its mission of sending local students to college. It is also looking for mentors, volunteers to read to young students and five more people to serve on the board of directors. “We have different levels of involvement based on what people want to do,” said organization Vice Chair Stephen Schultz. To get involved, call President Kenneth Lewis at 726-6996 or Schultz at 721-3584.

How did it all start?

The “I Have A Dream” program was launched in 1981, when founder Eugene Lang returned to his alma mater, P.S. 121 in East Harlem, N.Y., to address the graduating sixth-grade class. When he learned that three-quarters of the school’s students would probably drop out of school, Lang promised college tuition to every sixth-grader who graduated from high school. This promise sparked a national movement that now stretches from coast to coast. Currently, more than 3,500 Dreamers are on the pathway to college in 17 states, Washington, D.C., and New Zealand, following some 11,000 Dreamers who came before them.

To read this article in the Mountain Express, click HERE