I Have A Dream Milwaukee

“I Have A Dream” Milwaukee is a unique affiliate of the “I Have A Dream” Foundation. The program is driven by individuals and public and private sector organizations committed to helping children from low-income backgrounds achieve a higher education.

The national parent organization was founded in 1981, when businessman Eugene Lang returned to his alma mater, PS. 121 in East Harlem, to address the graduating sixth grade class. When he learned from the school principal 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.

The results were truly amazing - 90% of those sixth graders graduated high school and 60% went on to college. Lang’s impromptu promise sparked a national movement. Over 200 “I Have A Dream” programs have operated in 27 states, Washington, D.C. and New Zealand, together serving over 15,000 Dreamers.

“I Have A Dream” Milwaukee was launched in 2008 at Clarke Street School by Mayor Tom Barrett and other supporters. The program has garnered over $2 million in investments to guarantee every Dreamer college tuition support and access to comprehensive, year-round tutoring, mentoring and other social support services until they complete college.

“I Have A Dream “Milwaukee is administered by a Program Manager, two support staff members and many volunteers. In addition to serving Dreamers, the staff works with families to address ongoing family challenges to remove potential barriers. The goal is to have each family achieve self-sufficient status to stabilize their foundation to support Dreamers.

The program currently serves 57 Dreamers, now sixth and seventh graders, and their families. 97% of Dreamers are African American and 71% live in single parent, female headed households with annual incomes of less than $20,000. The poverty rate in the neighborhood and adjoining areas where Clarke Street School is located exceeds 60%. Metcalfe Park faces numerous social and economic challenges including high crime, unemployment, teen pregnancy and school drop-out rates.

Despite these odds, “I Have A Dream” Milwaukee is making a difference by:

  • Fostering the expectation of college
  • Ensuring academic readiness
  • Cultivating Dreamer’s ongoing leadership
  • Empowering Dreamers and their families
  • Creating a context for success

“I Have A Dream” Milwaukee is well on its way to putting 57 Dreamers on a path to successfully complete high school and succeed in college and beyond. 100 % of Dreamers believe they will go to college. A number of parents have also gone on to achieve GEDs and one entered college this year – role modeling the importance of education to Dreamers.

“I Have A Dream Milwaukee” is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization. Past and current supporters include: Ted & Mary Kellner, Brady Foundation, City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Public Schools, Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Betty Brinn Foundation, Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation, Weiss Family Foundation, Manpower Inc. and former Legacy Bank.

For more information, contact:
“I Have A Dream” Milwaukee
Clarke Street School
2816 W. Clarke St.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Phone: 414-267-1027

Mayor Tom Barrett 

Mayor Tom Barrett

 City Hall, 200 E. Wells Street, Room 201, Milwaukee, WI 53202

 Monday - Friday, 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM

 Email Mayor Barrett



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