Dipen Bhakta first heard about the US Dream Academy while a student at the University of Houston. Dipen and his family moved to Houston, TX in 1999. Little did he know that the Houston Learning Center opened two streets down from him in 2002.
Over the past 13 years, Walter Hull has become a rising Social Artist, Thought Leader, and Youth Development Strategist in Houston, TX. Through his work with the U.S. Dream Academy, a national mentoring organization dedicated to improving neighborhoods that have been harmed by mass incarceration, Walter has helped shape the organization's approach to community asset building through mentoring.
Our Learning Center has three DreamTeens learning about mentoring through volunteering with our elementary DreamKids. Every Thursday, Kya, M’Riah, and Jasmine spend two hours after school working with our DreamKids. They help students with their homework and other activities, and learn to build trust and relationships with their young mentees.
The DreamKids enjoy working with the DreamTeens, and Learning Center staff are appreciative of their efforts. The DreamTeens did not need too much orientation around the Learning Center, however, as they themselves participated in the Dream Academy when they were younger. They were so positively impacted by that experience that they were quite happy to be able to give back to the program directly – and they didn’t need to wait until they “grew up” to do so. Thank you so much, DreamTeens, for being willing to give back at such a young age!
Our local IKEA gave us a warm welcome during recent visit as part of our series exploring career readiness opportunities. Special thanks to IKEA designer, Christina, for giving our DreamKids a tour and introduction to a career in interior design. DreamKids had the opportunity to interact with a vallentuna planning tool, which allowed them to combine components and pieces to create unique sofa designs on a computer.
Fifth grade DreamKid Jade was particularly excited, noting that "I want to be an interior designer when I grow up. My favorite part about IKEA was we got to look at all the different types of rooms for different ages.
With the support and guidance of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and State Senator Rodney Ellis, we established the Houston Dream Center in October 2002. The Center relocated to Foster Elementary School in October 2007 to increase our capacity to serve more students in this low-income, high-crime community. The Center, which is now able to accommodate 60 students between the ages of 8-13, promotes engagement in the arts, such as dance, music, and theater, in addition to academic and other support.
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