Ten years ago, Eugene Lang startled a graduating class of East Harlem sixth-graders by promising to pay for their college educations. He had been advised by their principal that most of the students would drop out before completing high school; Lang hoped the tuition promise would motivate them to stay in school. But Lang soon discovered he needed to provide more than money to make the distant prospect of college a reality for his students, whom he called "Dreamers." To augment his promise, Lang rented a meeting space and hired Johnny Rivera, a young caseworker with a neighborhood social service organization, to coordinate support services for the Dreamers and their families. Over the next ten years, Lang and Rivera worked closely with the students, as mentors and motivators. Most importantly, they built caring, personal relationships with their Dreamers. The original inspiration of the scholarship promise, combined with a decade of guidance and support, produced striking results.
Christopher A. Coons & Elizabeth W. Petrick,
A Decade of Making Dreams into Reality: Lessons from the I Have A Dream Program,
Yale L. & Pol'y Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylpr/vol10/iss1/6