The East Palo Alto chapter of “I Have a Dream” was started in 1992 by Stanford Business School MBA students, including Dave Michael, Thad Whalen, Nick Folger, and Peter Dumanian. After incorporating and intensive fundraising, they adopted 72 third and fourth graders who attended the Flood School in East Menlo Park. They promised these students their ongoing academic, social, and financial support, including stipends for college tuition. In 2001,100% of these students graduated from high school and most subsequently graduated from college. A second cohort of 60 Dreamers entered the program during their first grade year at Costaño School in East Palo Alto. These students graduated from high school in 2013, and most are in their second year of college.
Our Building Futures Now after school and summer program began in 2008. It retains the strengths of the I Have a Dream program, including the tailored approach to each child and the deep level of support, while adding a few modifications. Because we accept as many as 15 students in each age cohort, we can accommodate siblings. That enables us to strengthen our relationships with our students’ families and integrate them into the program. Our older students serve as mentors and models for our younger students. Although we have achieved substantial success with I Have a Dream, our newer program is adapted to the specific needs of our East Palo Alto/east Menlo Park community. It is a 13-year journey to success in high school, college and ultimately to careers.