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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Civil Rights, Human Service Organizations, Human Services, Youth Community Service Clubs

Mission: Dreams for Kids replaces charity with with opportunity for at-risk youth who learn career and life skills as they build social enterprises that impact their local community and the world.

Results: The Chicago International Charter Schools accepted the Dream Leaders program into its general curriculum, teaching all 8th graders social entrepreneurship as they build social enterprises to impact the world.

Target demographics: At-risk youth in U.S. between the ages of 12 and 17.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 6,000

Geographic areas served: U.S, with local concentration in Illinois and Washington DC.

Programs: Dream Leaders program provides training in youth leadership,social entrepreneurship and service learning in class, after school and in We Are the Change® conferences. Extreme Recess provides adaptive sports activities for kids with disabilities, Holiday for Hope is a global event for homeless children, held each December.

Community Stories

67 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Dreams For Kids directly makes an impact in the lives of kids in need. They replace charity with opportunity in the sense that they enable children to achieve goals by providing them with the tools to do so. Several years back I started volunteering with Dreams For Kids. I have a sister with autism, and after I had done a couple of events with them, they invited her out to be a guest. We've had some amazing experiences, and done things neither of us thought possible! This is one of the most hard working, down to earth, friendly and fun groups I've ever been a part of who make a direct impact in children's lives. I feel so grateful that me and my family are a part of it and we hope to continue our involvement with them for years to come. Highly recommended on all levels.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Dreams for Kids is an organization that puts the kids first. They understand that a little bit of hope can carry a lifetime. Their signature holiday and summer events put smiles on kids faces year after year. With a bit more support, I can picture Dreams for Kids really headed to the next level.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Dreams for Kids is a growing organization that has great potential. With a little more man-power and growth, this could be the "go-to" NPO in the city. DFK is very current; always exploring innovative ways to spark new ideas and help different groups of people. Holiday for Hope and Extreme Recess are amazing ways to get involved. Seeing the magic firsthand will change your life (not to mention the lives of others)!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered my time and donated our money with pleasure to Dreams for Kids for over 20 years. That alone speaks volumes. There is no other organization that I can recommend more highly. DFK really impacts the lives of children through its many programs, whether by teaching young children how to overcome obstacles and become leaders, giving disabled children experiences that build their confidence and open up life experiences never before imagined and providing a real holiday for thousands of homeless/underpriviledged youth. You can trust DFK with your hard earned money and volunteering with DFK is extremely rewarding for many, many people. My family and I will always have DFK as part of our lives.

Comments ( 1 )

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Tom Tuohy 10/08/2016

Thank you for you and your family Dan, for be being a special part of the Dreams for Kids family for decades. You are the spirit of Dreams for Kids!

1 Gloria40

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Incredible organizations that changes the lives of those in need. I have had an incredible positive experience working with the folks at Dreams For Kids. I look forward every year to their Holiday For Hope ..my teen age son and I so enjoy volunteering at this special day where kids have a chance to be kids! It isn't Christmas until we volunteer at this event. Through out the year they organize special events for at risk kids and kids with disabilities. Everything they do is from the heart...

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Tom Tuohy 10/08/2016

Thank you Gloria. It wouldn't be Christmas for us either without seeing you and Nicholas every year!

2 Catherine O.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience with this exceptional organization never disappoints!
From Holiday for Hope to Extreme Recess, Dreams for Kids provides opportunities for all sorts of differently-abled people. Celebrating differences, offering children the chance to try crazy things like water sports or snow skiing while encouraging all of us to look beyond our narrow worldview.
My favorite story is wheelchair bound children in Chicago learning their counterparts in other parts of the world don't even have wheelchairs. They have to drag themselves around or never leave their houses.
What did our kids do?
Organized a bake sale to get wheelchairs sent to them.
Dreams for Kids enabled children who are normally being helped to be the helpers ! A beautiful, beautiful gift!

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Tom Tuohy 10/08/2016

Thank you Catherine, and for your beautiful voice being the first thing the kids hear every year with the Old St Patrick's Day Choir! And yes, that is the best story!

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2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We love this organization! All are welcome, encouraged to participate in the programs like Extreme Water Sports and the Holiday Party. My sons and I have volunteered for both and the choir from our church has welcomed Holiday Party-ers for a number of years with Christmas Carols. We leave feeling we've been given the gift! And every year some one says "Now it's Christmas"! As for the EWS, there is nothing like the look on the child's face as the adaptive-ski is pulled through the water…sheer joy! Dreams for Kids redefines "differently abled" every day! Continue the good work!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Dream For Kids is one of the most amazing charities that I have ever come across, and had the pleasure to work with! Tom Tuohy is an admirable, caring, and amazing founder of an organization that has affected so many people across the board. Dream For Kids helps both directly and indirectly the communities of Chicago where help is needed so much in today's landscape especially! After serving for over 8 years on DuPage County's Positive Parenting Board of Directors, I worked with and was exposed to over hundreds of Chicago's best non-profits affecting children, parents, and professionals exposed to our youth on a daily basis. Based on my experience, I would rate Dream For Kids at the VERY top for not only their mission, drive, and dedication to improving the lives of Chicago youth, but also for their laser-focused execution in making dreams really become reality! We can all HOPE and WISH for better, but Tom, Shelly, and their team really MAKE DREAMS COME TRUE for all those people they intersect with - they make a better future possible for the youth of Chicago!

Sincerely,
Sarah Quinn

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Tom Tuohy 10/08/2016

Thank you Sarah for your kind words and recognizing Dreams for Kids and for your many contributions in the community!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization has taught me so many things that I would have not learned in any classroom. The main message was that I can succeed and help others dispite my physical disability. I now take on new challenges everyday in college. I have taken a leadership role as the treasurer of the College Club Council at Joliet Junior College, and I am starting a wheelchair rugby team at JJC to help get other students with disabilities actively engaged at school. I aspire to help others, and live as independently as possible.

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Tom Tuohy 10/08/2016

Thanks Tyler! You have been and continue to be the best of Dreams for Kids. So proud of you and the life you are creating - no limits!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization is amazing. The people who run the events are great, and the opportunities get to know the families that come to the events is so personal. There are so many things to do at the events that it appeals to everyone and is such a fun experience for everyone attends. The thing this organization does for people is amazing.

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Tom Tuohy 10/08/2016

Thank you so much for your inspiring words. Makes us want to work even harder!

spoli13

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Dreams For Kids is one of the most amazing organizations I know and am honored to be a volunteer! DFK and its founder, Tom Tuohy, have been helping the students at my school for the past 16 years, with all sorts of adapted sports, adapted water skiing and scuba diving. DFK helps build self-worth and self esteem with those individuals who need it the most! This is truly one of Chicago's finest!!

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Tom Tuohy 10/08/2016

Thank you Ron. You and ICRE inspire us all every day, and for so many years. You all represent the beauty of what is possible in life!

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I can't say enough good things about Tom Tuohy, the staff or volunteers at Dreams For Kids. The work, programs, and special events that they offer to so many people is immeasurable. I met Tom and DFK more than a decade ago when I got my students at ICRE involved in a weekend sports program through DFK and RIC. Since then, not only has Dreams For Kids been instrumental with assisting my students on 6 life-changing adapted scuba diving trips with Diveheart, they have also gotten some of my students to become mentors in the Dream Leaders Program. Besides all the good things that have been afforded to my students, Dreams For Kids has brought so much joy and hope to countless other kids locally, nationally and internationally, including having fundraisers to send wheelchairs to needy children in Africa. I wish nothing but the best for Tom Tuohy and Dreams For Kids as they continue to change lives...one kid at a time!

Denise150

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have helped out and attended many events for Dreams for Kids! I can't begin to tell you how fabulous the entire team is! For one Shelly Gonsch has a heart bigger than Texas and goes above and beyond for the kids and makes sure that every event is organized and fun to be at. It makes my heart feel good to be honored to have been a part of Dreams for Kids and I am looking to start helping out with this awesome group of people very soon

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Tom Tuohy 10/08/2016

Thank you Denise! Love having you be a a special part of Dreams for Kids and seeing your smiling face. And yes, you are right about Shelly!