Model Program

I Have a Dream Foundation of Los Angeles

634 S Spring Street. Ste 812
Los Angeles, CA 90014

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Contact Information:
Katy Garretson

Program Specification:






Strong Evidence of Effectiveness

Age/Grade Level:

Target Settings:

Target Groups:

Middle School
High School

Inner City

Grade Level


Other Participation Criteria:

All Ethnicities


The mission of the "I Have a Dream" Foundation - Los Angeles is to help underprivileged children become productive citizens by providing a long-term program of academic enhancement, mentoring, and cultural enrichment with an assured opportunity for higher education. The "Have a Dream" movement began in 1981. As New York City businessman Eugene Lang prepared to address a group of graduating sixth graders at his alma mater, East Harlem Elementary, he was told that only 25% of the students sitting before him would graduate from high school. The figure was so alarming that he was moved to make an astonishing offer: He would pay the college tuition of each and every student who graduated from high school. The results were truly amazing: 90% of those sixth graders graduated from high school, and 60% went to college. This remarkable accomplishment led to the creation of the "I Have a Dream" Foundation. 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. Dreamers often graduate and enter college at double the rates of other students in the local population, and surpass the overall statewide average for students in their peer group. Founded in 1987, the "I Have a Dream" Foundation-Los Angeles has "adopted" nearly 1,000 Dreamers in the Los Angeles area. We currently have twelfth grade Dreamers in Pasadena, ninth graders in East Los Angeles and third and fourth graders in Inglewood. What makes the "I Have a Dream" program so effective? Our intervention in the lives of Dreamers occurs early and is extremely comprehensive and virtually continuous from the day we adopt them until they graduate from high school.

Program Descriptors Include:
Academic Improvement, Behavior Management/Discipline, Bi-lingual/ESL, Computer Assisted Instruction, Extended-School/Summer Program, GED, Mentoring/Tutoring, Life Skills Training

Starting Date: 1981
Students Served Per Year: less than 50
Last Verified: 2010

Risk Factors:

Protective Factors:

Program addresses the following:

Individual factors

  • Low achievement
  • Low educational expectations
  • Low commitment to school

Family factors

  • Low socioeconomic status

Program promotes the following:


  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Opportunities and rewards for pro-social involvement
  • Good relationships with parents, peers, and teachers
  • Involvement with positive peer activities


  • High expectations by community, family, school, and self

Program Resources:

Annual Cost:

The annual cost range of the program is $25,000 - $100,000 or over $2000 per student.

Funding Sources Include:

Program Staff Includes:

Local/City/County Agencies


Materials Used:

Supporting / Partner Organizations:


Boys and Girls Club, The Story Project

Evaluation Information:

In the most recent class to complete the "I Have a Dream" program in Los Angeles, 83% graduated on time and 60% enrolled in college.. Nationwide, 83% of the I Have a Dream classes of 2003 and 2004 graduated or earned a GED and 67% are attending college. In an area of Harlem where, historically, only 25% of sixth graders went on to graduate from high school, 90% of I Have A Dream's students graduated, and 60% went on to college. A University of Illinois study found that Dreamers graduated from high school on time at more than twice the rate of non-Dreamers, and 64% went on to college, as opposed to 18% of the control group. In 2002, Los Angeles Dreamers scored 95% higher on fourth grade SAT 9 reading tests and 56% higher on math tests than the preceding class. Studies show that Dreamers are better able to resist negative peer pressure and to serve as role models.

How evaluation data was collected:
Data collected and analyzed at school/district level
Data collected and analyzed at state or organizational level