“I Have A Dream” Foundation to Celebrate 40th Anniversary with Virtual Gala

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Virtual event will honor alumni throughout the decades; feature Colorado Governor Jared Polis & Senator Chris Coons

I look forward to celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the ‘I Have A Dream’ Foundation, the organization that started my career in public service.

In celebration of its 40th Anniversary, the “I Have A Dream” Foundation will be holding a virtual gala on Tuesday, May 25th, 2021. The live stream will take place at 6pm ET, with a pre-event networking session at 5:30pm ET.

The event, which will be hosted by actress Stephanie Andujar, an alumna of the program who has appeared in Blue Bloods, Orange is the New Black, and Precious, will honor four alumni (“Dreamers,”) each from a different decade of the “I Have A Dream” Foundation’s history. Tanzina Vega, who joined the program in New York in 1986, is currently the Host and Editorial Lead of radio news program The Takeaway from WNYC. Shamonica Wiggins, who joined the Dallas, TX, program in 1996, is a national advocate for Sickle Cell Anemia. Kenny Nguyen, who began the Boulder, CO program in 2001, currently serves as Executive Assistant to Lt. Governor Primavera of Colorado, and will be introduced by Colorado Governor Jared Polis. Kenneth Brown, who joined the Los Angeles, CA program in 2013, is a professional musician who appeared in the 2021 Grammys.

The program will feature remarks from U.S. Senator Chris Coons, former “I Have A Dream” Foundation staff and National board member, who will announce an exciting new program, and Governor Jared Polis, an entrepreneur and philanthropist serving as 43rd governor of Colorado. Throughout the organization’s 40 year history, many “I Have A Dream” Foundation staff and volunteers have been inspired to answer the call for educational equity into public service, including former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who first served as a Program Director in Chicago.

Eugena Oh, President and CEO of the National “I Have A Dream” Foundation, shares of the organization’s 40 year history and plans for the future, “[i]t is an exciting and critical time to be able to provide resources to communities in need. Our hope is to expand and both deepen relationships in our current partner communities, and to reach new ones as well. It is our honor to continue to work towards Mr. Eugene Lang’s vision of education and mentorship for all. He was inspired to answer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to service, forty years ago; we continue to be inspired by Dr. King each and every day.”

Alum Honoree Tanzina Vega says of her experience in the program, “‘I Have A Dream’ allowed me to see what life had to offer outside of my immediate neighborhood and ignited my sense of possibility and ambition.”

Senator Chris Coons adds, “I look forward to celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the ‘I Have A Dream’ Foundation, the organization that started my career in public service. My experiences connecting AmeriCorps members with opportunities to serve young people around the country made me appreciate the special role that volunteers, public servants, and nonprofits can play in bringing resources and hope to all of our communities. Programs like ‘I Have A Dream’ make a real difference in the lives and communities they touch.”

The “I Have A Dream” Foundation’s 40 year legacy began in 1981 when Eugene Lang pledged to support the college education of an entire class of East Harlem sixth graders. Lang told the class about witnessing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington. He urged the students to dream their own dreams and promised to do all he could to help them achieve their goals. This sparked a national movement in the years that followed, with philanthropists sponsoring entire classes throughout the country, in a network that would grow to serve over 20,000 students to date on the path to and through college. Today, Dreamers are over 3x more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than their peers. Throughout the pandemic, college-aged Dreamers have increased in their likelihood to matriculate, continue to attend, and successfully graduate college, despite the daunting challenges of remote learning.

Those wishing to support educational equity in their own community can learn more about the “I Have A Dream” Foundation, and register to attend the virtual event, at http://ihaveadreamfoundation.org/gala.


About “I Have A Dream” Foundation:

The “I Have A Dream” Foundation (IHDF) is a national non-profit organization that empowers young people to achieve their dreams through education and mentoring. The organization provides students, their families, and communities with academic, financial, and emotional support to overcome social inequity. The comprehensive program of support works with young people from kindergarten to career, ensuring they become compassionate adults and have the opportunity to make meaningful choices, to create a more just society. Currently celebrating its 40th Anniversary, the “I Have A Dream” Foundation has positively impacted the lives of over 20,000 young people.

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Eugena Oh
since: 03/2014
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