DREAM (Dare to Reach, Excel, and Achieve More®) is a MAHCC-sponsored program conceived by the Chamber's CEO, Jorge Ribas and his wife, Sharon, which grew out of their community work as they encouraged young people to achieve their educational potential so that they could enjoy happier and more productive lives.
The DREAM acronym depicts the process by which the target recipients—college-aged men and women—can begin to envision a richer and more productive life for themselves through self-sufficiency and academic achievement. It involves a sequence of steps beginning with the formation of a mindset that envisions possibilities that go beyond their present situation and that is followed by the courage to make those possibilities a reality.
Once young people understand the linkage between higher education and their dreams for a better life, their outlook often changes significantly. When they have the courage and support to reach out for help to gain part-time or full-time employment and enter college, they begin to experience success and to appreciate the many opportunities and rewards that come with excelling, which in turn is a powerful motivator for a greater achievement that builds on past successes.
The ultimate goal of the project is to instill in young people a culture of excellence, independence, and life-long love of learning while achieving career goals.
But how can they understand that higher education is possible for them given limited resources and/or lack of parental encouragement, and often language and cultural barriers? And how can they be helped during their journey?
The answer is through the use of trained volunteers—successful men and women—who serve as mentors and who encourage them to enter college and help prepare them to gain employment so that they may be able to defray the cost of a college education. The Chamber also supports the program by establishing a process for recruiting and selecting student candidates for the program, identifying and training mentors, seeking financial support from the private and public sectors, and identifying potential employers.