Project DREAM (Developing Resiliency through Education, the Arts and Mentoring) started in 2004 when two friends, Kate Bishop-Hazarian and Susan Welch, began to dream about providing students in the North Sacramento and Del Paso Heights communities with the same type of enrichment programs their children had in a middle class community.  Kate had been a school social worker and administrator for many years in the area and told Susan stories of the challenges her students had with homelessness, poverty and truancy.

Susan, a real estate agent from Prudential Realty in Roseville, was touched by the stories and wanted to make a difference.  She went on the Price is Right game show and won a ski boat.  She donated the proceeds from the sale of this boat to the homeless and other needy children in the area and DREAM began.

DREAM is a volunteer committee of business partners, parents and educators dedicated to raising funds to help pay for the positive activities that connect young people to school and inspire them to set goals for the future.  Whether it be violin lessons, uniforms and equipment for sports teams or field trips to the ocean, DREAM supporters believe that these activities build relationships between students and caring adults and shows them possibilities beyond the challenges that they face today.

DREAM has partnered with many businesses and community members to fund nearly $300,000 in enrichment activities, holiday charity programs and College Bound Scholarships in three short years. We’ve also stretched $130,000 in donations from the Bayside Family of Churches to replace playgrounds at Hagginwood, Harmon Johnson and Northwood Schools.

DREAM is entering a new phase as the district they serve has grown. The former North Sacramento School District merged with Grant Joint Union, Del Paso Heights and Rio Linda Union School Districts on July 1, 2008. They have also joined with volunteers from the Rio Linda Education Foundation and are expanding their fundraising ability to meet the needs of 28,000 students in 50 schools throughout the north area of Sacramento County.

This year, just like in the past, DREAM is specifically outreaching to youth who have overcome significant obstacles, such as homelessness, growing up in foster care, being an immigrant, and other family challenges. For 2012, they’ve raised $14,000, enough to offer 25 students headed to college a dorm shopping spree at the Natomas Target in July. DREAM will also purchase six laptops for students who don’t own a portable computer. If they can raise another $10,000, they will purchase laptops for all of the program participants who are about to start their first year of college.

To learn about how you can help Project DREAM, you can visit their website by clicking here. To see a great video of last year’s event, click here.