The History of "I Have A Dream" The "I Have A Dream" Program started in 1981 when Eugene M. Lane, a successful industrialist, was invited to return to his inner-city elementary school, P.S. 121 in East Harlem, New York, to give the commencement address to the graduating sixth grade class. As he faced the children and was about to tell them the value of hard work and the "bootstrap" theory, he realized that what they needed to hear was something more promising, more concrete, more personal. He threw away his speech and spontaneously committed to this class that any member who stayed in school, graduated and qualified for college would, through him, be assured of having the financial resources to pursue his or her education - his or her "Dream." The dropout rate for schools in the New York area was over 75% at the time Lang made his offer. Six years later, fifty of the fifty-one children in his program finished high school and many went on to college because of Eugene Lang and his program. Today, "I Have A Dream" has more than 175 Projects in 60 cities, helping over 14,000 children. The IHAD Program is now a nationally recognized model that helps children stay in school, graduate, and go on to college or meaningful employment. The students, called Dreamers, participate in a year-round program of mentoring, tutoring, cultural exposure, and community service activities from elementary school through high school. Upon graduation, Dreamers receive financial assistance for either college or vocational education. The program is funded by local individuals or couples who are called sponsors. History of IHAD Southwest Washington IHAD of Southwest Washington currently serves over 333 Dreamers and their families. Dreamer classes are chosen on the basis of economic and social need. The first class of 64 fourth grade Dreamers came from Washington Elementary School and was adopted in 1995. These students are now Sophomores in high school. The second class of 75 fourth grade Dreamers, adopted in 1997, came from Hough Elementary School are now are in the eighth grade. The third class of 86 fourth-graders was adopted from Harmey Elementary in 1999. The latest addition to the IHAD family was adopted in May of 2001. At that time, 101 2nd graders were chosen from Martin Luther King ELementary School. There is a full-time project coordinator and part-time assistant hired by the sponsors for each of the four projects in Vancouver. They maintain ongoing personal relationships with the Dreamers and their families. They serve as a resource for academic and personal problems. Project coordinators provide referrals to other agencies to meet overall family needs, and serve as a liaison between Dreamers, their families, school personnel and the community. I Have a Dream recruits and supports community members who share their time and talents to assist Dreamers. IHAD of SW WA is an equal opportunity employer, and seeks to create new perceptions, understandings, and cooperation across ethnic, economic and community lines. Mentoring and/or interns are needed for relationship building with young Dreamers, academic mentoring, career exploration, skill sharing and college scholarship and grant application guidance. If you do not see your "gift" to share listed under volunteer opportunities, please email: Paul Schroeder at email@example.com and share your additional ideas. We specialize in creating mentoring opportunities to fit individual volunteer's schedules, talents and interests. The list is endless of ways you can make a positive difference!