Columbia non-profit makes dreams come true
COLUMBIA - Basketball, soccer, gymnastics and ballet are just a few of the extra curricular activities supported by the Day Dreams Foundation.
It is an organization that offers scholarships to Columbia Public Schools students who receive free or reduced lunch at school. The scholarships allow children to participate in activities they otherwise would not be able to afford.
"It's a really needed service, especially if you have multiple kids in one family, and you're not able to make all those fees and uniforms and competition fees," said Dominique King, whose daughters are both on scholarships through the foundation.
King's daughter Sydney, who's a kindergartner at Ridge Way Elementary, takes ballet classes every Saturday at Missouri Contemporary Ballet.
"I just really like it because I like the music and dancing a lot," Sydney said.
King said the environment is something she and Sydney have fun with.
"I think she likes the teacher and the interaction with the teacher and with other students. She really enjoys the other girls here, and the staff is just really great to work with," she said.
The Day Dreams Foundation was created by founder and president Joe Bradley in September 2014.
"I really just wanted to make sure that every kid in our community has the same chances as I had growing up," Bradley said.
The foundation has awarded 86 scholarships since its first in March of 2015. In addition, its has raised $27,000 for activities and equipment costs.
Day Dreams has never turned a child away as long as they have correctly fill out the application, meet eligibility requirements, and want to participate in an activity that the foundation believes would be positive for the child.
Scholarship recipients are encouraged to to get involved with their community, but Bradley said the foundation isn't asking for those community service hours in exchange for scholarships.
"We should take advantage of that to help them get more involved in the community and better themselves and the community at the same time," Bradley said.
King said she approves of that.
"One of the things I really like about Day Dreams is they have a community service aspect of their scholarship program, so kids are not only receiving but they're also giving back," King said.
She said one of the more challenging parts of community service is finding ways younger children can get involved.
"The requirement to give community service hours is very reasonable compared to the age of the child, so a younger child is very minimal as far as what they're contributing to their community," King said. "It's important that it's still be there so that they're able to have that experience along with the class and the other sports they're in."
King said her family has had to get creative in order to find activities suited for younger kids, but she is still an advocate for making sure her kids are involved.
"It's all about being able to provide a service to the families, but also the families being encouraged to give back to their community, so it's just a really good dynamic," King said.
The Day Dreams Foundation hosts three annual fundraisers and also meets with CPS board members to make sure all families and children know about the scholarship opportunity.
"Definitely the best part of this position is when we approve those scholarships at our meetings, but then, once we approve the scholarships, we actually meet with the family in person," Bradley said.
In order to follow up with children in the program, Day Dreams offers a $1,500 college scholarship for those who participated for at least two years in the program. That $1,500 scholarship is eligible for renewal for all four years of college.
The Day Dreams Foundation website has more information on how to apply for scholarships.