by Sabine Kortals Stein
Empowering local children from low-income communities to succeed in school, college, and their careers, the “I Have A Dream” Foundation Boulder County (IHDF) has reason to celebrate.
“We’ve seen a huge ramp-up and lots of growth in recent years,” says Development Director Danielle Staunton, noting that IHDF follows a holistic, long-term model working with students as young as 1st grade. “For the past 10 years or so, we’ve been launching a new class every year.”
More than 13,800 Boulder County kids live in or near poverty. According to Danielle, “COVID-19 has further widened the opportunity gap for people living in or near poverty. And the students we serve also face systemic racial and economic challenges.”
In response, IHDF’s culturally responsible programming provides academic, social, and emotional support from elementary school through college, along with a post-secondary tuition assistance scholarship.
In the 2019-2020 school year, IHDF services and supports served 625 students. Some 93% of participating high school seniors graduated or received their GED, 64% of these students enrolled in postsecondary education, and 86% of Dreamer Scholars reported improvement in math skills. All Dreamer Scholars are from underserved communities, working to fracture the cycle of poverty; 83% are first-generation college students – predominantly Latina/o/x and people of color – who are committed to making their communities more powerful.
“It’s wonderful to be able to better meet the needs of our community over time,” continues Danielle, also citing strong support from the organization’s volunteers and board. SVP Boulder County Partner Dennis Berry currently serves on the IHDF board.
“At the same time, we find ourselves needing to ensure the sustainability of the foundation. That means building out our alumni and job referral networks, and expanding and deepening partnerships with vocational and technical training programs and schools. Going to a four-year school after graduating from high school isn’t always the best path for every student.”