DREAM was informally founded in 1995 by Michel Zaleski, our chairman, president and largest donor, who wanted to help improve the future for the children of the Dominican Republic. He decided to focus on education after visiting public schools in Cabarete with overcrowded understaffed classrooms and dilapidated facilities with no running water or electricity. It was clear that the country was woefully under-investing in its schools. Michel began by bringing down Dartmouth College students to supplement the teaching at two Cabarete public schools. He and other donors then began paying for the construction of additional classrooms, libraries and sanitary facilities at these and other schools. Realizing that a lot more could be done by having its own facilities and organizing as a registered non-profit, DREAM was formally established in 2002 in both the US and Dominican Republic.
Since then, DREAM has grown from one location to now helping more than 8,200 children, youth and young adults receive a better education through its 14 programs in 27 different communities. DREAM’s programs focus on early childhood education, high quality primary education, and holistic youth development. These programs consist of neo-natal education, preschools, after school supplemental and remedial education, at-risk youth programs, summer schools and camps, fixed and mobile libraries, computer labs, age-appropriate free books for thousands of children, vocational training and much more.
We work closely with community members and public school staff to assess local needs, establish quality education programs that address those needs, and provide continuous support to schools, teachers and community members to ensure success over the long-term. This is what sets us apart from other organizations.
DREAM is one of the largest employers in the communities in which it works, supporting close to 80 staff and their families. DREAM’s volunteer program is a key factor in its success. Each year, hundreds of international and local volunteers work on specific DREAM projects and programs. Some reside in our communities for a year or longer.
From Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz, to the first Dominican-born member of Congress, Adriano Espaillat, to Grammy nominee Leslie Grace, our board consists of artists, athletes, educators and philanthropists leading the charge to educate all Dominican youth.
Our Theory of Change
Our theory of change—the essence of what we do and how change happens—is centered on supporting children and youth at multiple phases of their lives, beginning at age 2 and ending at age 25.
*DREAM programs continuously expand, so some videos and statistics may be outdated.