“I Have A Dream” Foundation Receives Largest Donation Ever; Positions Organization to Serve 10,000 Low-Income Students

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National education nonprofit the "I Have A Dream" Foundation (IHDF) has received a $3 Million bequest, the organization's largest gift in its 35 year history. This support will help IHDF expand their programs to double the number of students from low-income communities ("Dreamers") served, allowing them to reach more of the 25 million low-income public school students in the U.S. as they provide long-term social, emotional, economic, & tuition support from elementary school through college.

This tremendous support will help enable us to significantly expand our reach to serve more of the 25 million low-income public school students in the U.S.

The “I Have A Dream” Foundation (IHDF) received a $3 million gift on January 25, the largest donation in the organization’s 35 year history. The funds will support IHDF’s bold strategic growth plan to actively serve at least 10,000 low-income students (Dreamers) by 2020—doubling the current number of Dreamers. IHDF provides individualized, long-term academic, social-emotional, and tuition support to children from low-income communities, starting in kindergarten and continuing through college. To date, IHDF has served nearly 18,000 Dreamers, who are 3x more likely to graduate college than their low-income peers.

“We are so grateful for this unexpected large gift to our national organization,” said Donna Lawrence, President & CEO of the National “I Have A Dream” Foundation. “There is so much work to do to ensure that all children have equal access to quality education and the supports they need to ensure college completion and career success. Our programs are very unique in their high-touch, long-term commitment to children of all levels of ability, and this tremendous support will help enable us to significantly expand our reach to serve more of the 25 million low-income public school students in the U.S.”

The surprise bequest comes from the estate of Israel Convisser, an administrative law judge who died in 2001. Mr. Convisser, a native of Brooklyn, NY and a graduate of Cornell University and Brooklyn Law School, was a local supporter of the arts in Washington, D.C., where he had lived since 1938.

In addition to helping increase the number of programs around the country—IHDF currently has 40 programs in the U.S. and New Zealand—this gift will support the direct services that current Dreamers benefit from, including a summer college preparatory program, “Dream Up;” College Savings Accounts beginning in the first grade; internship opportunities at top companies; and continued long-term, individualized mentorship and support provided by trained staff and volunteers.

“As the Chairman of the Board, I’m delighted and heartened by this legacy gift and the impact it will have for our organization,” said Ron Terwilliger. “Our founder, Eugene Lang, sparked a national movement in 1981 when he promised college tuition for every sixth-grader at P.S. 121 in East Harlem, New York who finished high school. This gift will help ensure that IHDF can expand its unique, time-tested model providing thousands of more low-income students the opportunity to realize their dreams of college and beyond.”

For those interested in making a gift or joining the Eugene M. Lang Legacy Society, please contact Robert Thompson, Chief Development Officer, at rthompson(at)ihad.org or (646) 517-2669.

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About “I Have A Dream” Foundation:
The “I Have A Dream” Foundation (IHDF) is a national non-profit organization focused on breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty through a comprehensive program of support that follows the same group of young people (“Dreamers”) from elementary school all the way through college. Founded 35 years ago through the vision of Eugene M. Lang, IHDF operates in 16 cities and has served 18,000 Dreamers in over 200 programs.

The numbers:
51% of students in U.S. public schools—over 25 Million children—are low-income, and only 9% of low-income students earn a bachelor’s degree, compared to 77% of their high-income peers. 90% of Dreamers complete high school, compared to 70% of their low-income peers, representing an additional $2.9 Billion in earnings over their lifetimes. Dreamers are nearly 3 times more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than their low-income peers, with almost 70% enrolling in college. Without this level of support, the cycle of poverty continues: 65% of children whose parents have no more than a high school diploma live in poverty. Now, 35 years after Eugene M. Lang’s life changing promise, Dreamers have children who are attending college themselves.

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Kaitlin Archambault
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