On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, “I Have A Dream” Foundation Announces $500K Matching Gift To Benefit Newark Students

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Pledging a $500k matching gift to help the "I Have A Dream" Foundation launch new efforts at the 13th Avenue School in Newark, philanthropist Harlan Stone calls on others to join him in following the legacy of Eugene Lang—and the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—in supporting educational equity.

I am hoping that this gift will help others to recognize that they too can support tangible change, not only in Newark, but in their own communities.

The “I Have A Dream” Foundation is grateful to announce a matching gift of $500,000 by Harlan Stone in support of its New Jersey Affiliate’s partnership with the 13th Avenue (Dr. MLK Jr.) School in Newark, New Jersey this summer. The program, which provides social-emotional and academic support from kindergarten through postsecondary, will begin with 90 kindergarteners with the intention of growing to support the entire school of more than 500 students.

Stone, a member of the organization’s National board, has pledged to match every gift received by its New Jersey affiliate in the year 2020 up to his pledged amount. This generous contribution will help support the $1M goal needed to launch this effort in Newark. Stone is the CEO of HMTX Industries, a global flooring manufacturer whose brands service a diverse cross-section of the construction marketplace.

This contribution echoes the legacy started by the “I Have A Dream” Foundation’s founder, the late Eugene Lang, who in 1981 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 18,000 students to date on the path to and through college.

Harlan Stone hopes his gift will inspire others to follow: “One number that really alarmed me is that 90% of students in Newark who attend college for one semester do not attend a second semester. This trend is tragically echoed in communities throughout the country. The ‘I Have A Dream’ Foundation is making a meaningful and direct impact in the lives of thousands of students so their trajectory in life does not reflect these numbers. I am hoping that this gift will help others to recognize that they too can support tangible change, not only in Newark, but in their own communities.”

For Eugena Oh, President and CEO of the National “I Have A Dream” Foundation, this gift is timely in coinciding with Martin Luther King Day. “Nearly 60 years after Dr. King's March on Washington, it’s important that we reflect on the inequity that persists in our country today, when only 9% of low-income students earn a Bachelor’s degree, compared to 77% of their high-income peers,” says Oh. “We need to do better.”

Those wishing to support educational equity in their own community can learn more about the “I Have A Dream” Foundation at ihdf.org.

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 in 1981 through the vision of philanthropist Eugene M. Lang, IHDF has served over 18,000 Dreamers across the country. Learn more at ihaveadreamfoundation.org.

The numbers:
51% of students in U.S. public schools—over 25 Million children—are considered 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 over 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, nearly 40 years after Eugene M. Lang’s life changing promise, Dreamers have children who are attending college themselves.

About Harlan Stone:
Harlan Stone is the CEO of HMTX Industries, a global flooring manufacturer, and has earned a reputation as a transformational industry leader. Despite the challenges of running one of the largest luxury vinyl tile (LVT) enterprises in the world, Harlan is steadfast in his advocacy of social justice, sustainability and transparency. He also believes strongly in giving back and is deeply involved in numerous philanthropic endeavors, with a focus on housing, education and cancer research.

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