Today, I visited the Dream Project at the University of Washington and saw one example of how an institution of higher education can positively impact the community it resides in. Macalester could do a better job of addressing some of the issues faced by the Twin Cities and doing so could give us the credibility to make contributions on a broader, global level. Such efforts not only strengthen our own academic environment, but also give ourselves the resolve to offer our ideal of global citizenship to the rest of the world knowing we have not left those living closest to us behind. The Dream Project does this in a very special, yet simple way, partnering college students with high school students in an effort to brighten their future by making higher education a reality.
Dream Project consists of college students visiting local high schools once a week and mentoring them through the college application process. This simple idea has required dedication and effort from many, and as a result has grown significantly here in Seattle. It started small and simple, and has expanded to about 300 student mentors at the University of Washington and is beginning to reach out to students of all grades at an increasing number of high schools in and around Seattle. It conveys the important message to students that they can carry themselves beyond high school with their education. Repressive schools, impatient adults, and undesirable home environments have historically prevented this message from getting across, but the Dream Project has stepped in to implement it in secondary education. It has already greatly impacted the lives of individual students and the schools they attend, and will continue to grow and have an even larger impact in the future.
Some of the ranking members running Dream Project have attended national conferences on college access, where its model has become renowned. The Dream Project model is in the process of expanding to schools across the nation now, including Colorado State, Emory, and Temple University. In all, universities in eleven different states intend to acquire their own Dream Project program.
At Macalester, we have the potential to benefit local schools and have no reason not to utilize our dynamic abilities to make it happen. We currently lack the will to commit and put forth the effort to involve ourselves in the outcomes of local schools. Establishing this commitment would also strengthen our commitment to global citizenship by showing our desire to make an impact on all levels. Schools rest at the foundation of life and society. Since we know we have the ability, we all stand to gain by making efforts to support and improve the outcomes at local schools.