The Dream Project – Making a Difference through Education
The Dream Project has been active in Cabarete and the Dominican Republic since 1995 when the project’s founder Michel Zaleski decided he needed to do something about the state of the education system in the DR. The classrooms were overcrowded and understaffed, and the facilities were abysmal, resulting in a high drop out rate, and very low quality education. Seeing education as a basic human right and a vehicle out of poverty, Zaleski and other donners began making contrubitions to the local schools. Eventually, they decided to focus their resources on building their own non-profit organization where they could focus funds and values on educating youth and creating a better community. Since then, Dream has expanded into 27 different communities, helping more than 8,200 children, youth, and young adults to receive a better education through its 14 different programs.
If you’ve spent any time in Cabarete, you might have noticed that Cabarete is in fact a Dream community, their presence is strong with local events, musical performances, and billboards announcing their efforts. They work closely with public school staff in each of their regions to assess local needs and establish education programs that address those needs. One of their initiatives is their month long summer camp that focuses on preventing at risk youth from dropping out of school programs. It is also a draw for a huge influx of volunteers from the local area and abroad who come together to help make a difference every year.
The impact of the Dream project is seen year round in Cabarete, through their three main avenues of implementation: Early Childhood Education, Quality Primary Education, and Holistic Youth Development. The Early Childhood Education program includes birth registration, parent education, Montessori classrooms, and early literacy and music education. Their Quality Primary Education includes academic enrichment and support, summer schools and camps, libraries and literacy programs, and teacher training. The Holistic Youth Development program aids the community by providing sexual and reproductive health, job training, life skills and entrepreneurship, music education, and university scholarships.
The Dream Project is a huge player in Cabarete, their job training program titled A Ganar equips youth with job training and life skills and the entrepreneurial abilities necessary to secure a job or return to school. You will see many A Ganar students employed by local businesses, this alone makes a huge positive impact on the service industry and the tourism in the area. In addition to this program, their Music Education program strives to support the love of music and dance in Dominican Culture. Although it’s a big part of life in the Dominican Republic, there are few music training programs. While you’re staying at Ocean Palms Residences, try and catch a show by the Dream Contemporary Music Program and Bachata Academy. There are currently 98 students enrolled in their music programs.
Through their programs, Dream is one of the largest employers in the community, supporting close to 80 staff and their families. All of Dreams programs are built upon their key values: Integrity, Opportunity, Inclusion, Quality, Sustainability, and Transparancey. These values help to structure everything from syllabus planning to in-class discussions with youth.
The Dream project is a strong partner in Cabarete, if you want to show them your support by donating or volunteering with one of their programs as a short term or long term volunteer, you can check out ways to get involved on their site.