Access to Enrichment: DREAM’s Afterschool Offerings

by | May 14, 2024 | 0 comments

DREAM’s origins as a community youth development organization mean we have been providing free and enriching extracurricular activities to students in New York City for more than 30 years. After founding our first DREAM Charter School in 2008, that tradition of afterschool programming became a core component of our Grow the Whole Child education model, built on our belief that an intentional extended-day, extended-year education helps children develop into lifelong learners. That’s why two-thirds of DREAM students grow in social-emotional competencies over the course of the school year, and why DREAM students outperform district, city, and state peers’ test results each year.

Today, DREAM’s free afterschool programming, available to all students, also serves as an opportunity to open children’s minds to the world around them, and provides access to enrichments historically unavailable in the communities DREAM serves.

Read on to learn more about just some of the afterschool offerings DREAM has provided this past school year:

Ballet: In partnership with BE BOLD—the program founded by American Ballet Theatre’s first African-American principal dancer, Misty Copeland—DREAM’s afterschool ballet sessions serve East Harlem elementary school students aged 5-7. Students receive ballet slippers from BE BOLD, which also supplies instructors and live musicians for each session. They also had the opportunity to meet Misty herself, perform in front of her, and receive a signed copy of her book.

Capoeira: With the support of a current DREAM family, elementary-aged students in Mott Haven will be able to take lessons in capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art, starting this month. Students will receive instruction at Sankofa Haus, a social space in the South Bronx.

Chess: Through DREAM’s partnership with Growing Minds Chess Academy, DREAM Mott Haven second graders have learned to play chess. Lessons include the rules and strategy of chess, and are designed to prepare students to participate in future tournaments.

Languages: Elementary students at DREAM Highbridge have taken on new languages this year, receiving instruction in Spanish, which gives them a head start in learning more about a second language, or for many, the language of their families and the surrounding Highbridge community.

DREAM’s free afterschool programming, available to all students, serves as an opportunity to open children’s minds to the world around them, and provides access to enrichments historically unavailable in the communities DREAM serves.

Music Production: DREAM Mott Haven Middle School students are learning to produce their own music via instruction from Building Beats, which also provides DJ and music-production equipment. In addition to music production, lessons cover entrepreneurial skills, with a focus on the skills needed to run a successful business in music production.

Nutrition: Longtime DREAM partner S. Katzman Produce has been spending afternoons with students across the network to teach them about whole foods and their nutritional benefits. Each visit, students learn about a new fruit or vegetable, donated by the Katzman team.

Sneaker Design and Production: DREAM East Harlem Middle School students are now learning about the business of sneakers, and have the opportunity to design their own through a partnership with The Imagination Project.

Tennis: DREAM maintains a longtime partnership with the John McEnroe Tennis Academy—one of the nation’s top tennis academies—which provides lessons to students in DREAM’s elementary schools. Students receive tennis instruction at DREAM schools and the academy’s Randall’s Island location.

Urban Planning & Design: Upper elementary and middle school students at DREAM Mott Haven are studying urban planning and design in partnership with the Salvadori Center. This New York City-focused arts and design curriculum teaches students to build their own bridges, connecting architecture, urban needs, and design.

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DREAM started in 1991 as Harlem RBI, a volunteer-run Little League for 75 kids in East Harlem. Three decades later, the organization serves 2,500 youth across East Harlem and the South Bronx through a growing network of inclusive, extended-day, extended-year charter schools and community sports-based youth development programs. By developing an education model that is responsive to the unique academic and social needs of every child, DREAM is creating a future where all children are equipped to fulfill their vision of success.

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