Throughout its 35-year history, the “I Have A Dream” Foundation has been known for it’s whole-child education approach – a legacy from it’s very first program.

New York businessman Eugene Lang founded the “I Have a Dream” Foundation in 1981 when, prior to giving a speech at his middle school alma mater in Harlem, he was told that 75% of the students in attendance would drop out before graduating from high school. Eugene was so alarmed by this figure that he changed his speech on the spot and offered to pay the college tuition of every student in the room who graduated. Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech, the “I Have A Dream” movement began and eventually expanded to over 60 independently-run nonprofits in cities across the United States, Canada and New Zealand. To date, the “I Have A Dream” Foundation has served over 17,000 sponsored students, affectionally called our “Dreamers.”

“I Have a Dream” Foundation – Los Angeles (IHADLA), the second affiliate, was founded in 1987 by the Whittier Family Foundations, which funded the early programs across Los Angeles. For over 30 years, IHADLA has cumulatively impacted over 11,500 individuals from under-resourced communities including Dreamer Scholars and their families. We have also inspired many Dreamer alumni to come back and help their communities.

Our mission is to provide our Dreamers with the academic, socio-emotional and cultural resources to help them develop the skills needed to graduate from high school and to and through a college education. We serve our Dream Scholars for 12+ consecutive years from first grade to high school, and then to and through college – helping them effectively navigate an educational pathway to an empowered future. Unique among education charities, IHADLA offers the only academic, socio-emotional and family assistance program that is in school, after school, year-round, and long-term (10-plus years).

We currently serve nearly 500 youth across five programs from the under-served communities of Boyle Heights, Watts & Inglewood.