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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Dreams for Kids, Inc.

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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 trains and mentors youth as social entrepreneurs, providing practical education, real world training and contemporary job skills as they create enterprises that provide solutions to society’s critical social issues.

Results: We have launched Youth Enterprise Solutions (YES), a national program of social entrepreneurship learning for youth, hosted on our education partner's Global Learning Models, delivered by teachers in school and by trained mentors after school. The 13 lesson curriculum includes The Clearing, which helps youth clear conflicts and trauma of their past and present, as well as practical business skills such as marketing, sales, making a pitch, creating business plans, act. At the conclusion of the curriculum, students can apply their new skills to create a social enterprise, or work on an existing one, and be enrolled in our new Center for Social Entrepreneurship, to feature the resources of leading entrepreneurs and academics.

Target demographics: 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: Youth Enterprise Solutions, (YES), a program that provides students with a 13-lesson social entrepreneurship curriculum that was created by nationally recognized entrepreneurs and academic leaders and is delivered through peer to peer mentoring and reinforced by professional mentors in the community and our trademark, We Are the Change® conferences. Youth-led Social enterprises, Extreme Recess, provides adaptive sports activities for kids with disabilities and Holiday for Hope, a global event for homeless children, held each December.

Community Stories

79 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Scott160

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Dreams for Kids has never let itself be tied down by one mission. They have grown and morphed as the needs of the community presented themselves. They work tirelessly for all children in need- both the underserved and the affluent. Their most recent endeavor has given me hope for this next generation. Let's set the not-for-profit world AND the business world on their ears with a new crop of leaders that see the value in successful, sustainable business models that give back to the community. I can't wait to see the fruits of their labors at work in our city and worldwide.

Comments ( 1 )

Tom Tuohy Thank you for recognizing our goal and being part of our mission. Our new Youth Enterprise Solutions ( YES) program launches this fall and gives us all hope for the generation we have been waiting for!!

Clara T.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I worked with many non-profit organizations in my career and DREAMS FOR KIDS is the one that stands out! I first met them at a Christmas event and I was touched by how caring and deeply involved everyone was! It felt like a super large and extended family partying together and taking care of each other with love and compassion, respect and empathy! It was hard to tell who were the leaders and organizers, and who were the guests... as everyone was taking charge and also enjoying the party in the very same way, with the same level of enthusiasm and commitment. The kids were shining joy for a Christmas celebration that some of them might have not had at all, if not with Dreams for Kids. As a guest/videographer for the day I truly felt grateful and also part of the family. The same youth that Dreams for Kids offer opportunities to through their programs were the ones taking care and entertaining the younger children, and that was their way to celebrate Christmas: what a wonderful message and generous skill to learn! I kept in touch with a couple of kids whose lives were changed by Dreams for Kids: not only have they become first class human beings and successful adults but they constantly verbalize how immensely DREAMS FOR KIDS has impacted their lives forever by offering them real OPPORTUNITIES! Highly recommend DFK to donors, prospective volunteers, and kids in search of answers and a rewarding life!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

What I love about Dreams for Kids is that their programming provides opportunities for kids to both serve and be served. They learn accountability and responsibility while getting better self-awareness. This type of experience pays back sevenfold as they grow into adult members of the community. The founder Tom Tuohy has more than just big dreams for this organization. He has big plans. Those plans are making an incredible impact.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Dreams for Kids puts on great programs throughout the year. The impact that each event has on all of the children involved is immense. The first time I volunteered for Dreams for Kids, I was blown away by the entire event. Every child in attendance had a smile on their face, and I was so grateful I was apart of it. Getting involved with DFK was one of the best decisions I've ever made!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Dreams for Kids, Inc. has been one of my favorite nonprofits for years. I learned about them by chance in 2008 and have been involved as a volunteer ever since. From its humble beginnings at Women/Children's shelter creating Christmas, to an organization that now celebrates Christmas with a 1,000 kids! Also DFK has evolved with the times by creating Extreme Recess, the Dream Leaders program, Social Entrepreneurship, and DFK organizations throughout the USA and other countries around the world. They truly have brought back the concept of HOPE to all that participate one day a year to every day of the year. I look forward to continuing to assist in the evolution of DFK as we continue to meet the needs of our communities and beyond.

Comments ( 1 )

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Tom Tuohy 07/22/2017

Thanks for all the years of service and contribution Ron! You have a made a big difference!

1 Sandy50

Client Served

Rating: 5

When I think of Dreams For Kids, the image that comes to mind is a pebble thrown into water and the numerous ripples that come from just one pebble. This is an organization that is committed to the “ripple effect.” The world is truly a better place, as those individuals who have had the opportunity to work with Tom Touhy and the staff at DFK will surely make an impact far and wide. Dreams For Kids is a smart organization with a big heart! Check out the impressive Dream Leaders on the website – no doubt their ripple will be powerful and lasting!

Comments ( 1 )

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Tom Tuohy 07/22/2017

Thank you Sandy! You are part of that ripple!

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Client Served

Rating: 5

I am the mother of a 12 year-old boy with autism. Finding recreational opportunities for my son and our a family is very challenging to say the least, and then we found Extreme Recess! Spencer had the amazing experience of snow skiing this winter, something that I would have never thought possible. Dreams For Kids/Extreme Recess not only provided a great day of skiing, it gave me renewed hope for the future - anything is possible! The sky is the limit for my guy! The Extreme Recess volunteers and staff were not only only knowledgeable, but displayed a level of compassion and patience that was heart-warming. Can't wait for the the summer ski program at Twin Lakes!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've known Tom for many years and have had the privilege of watching DFK grow and change. I have also been able to help support some of the events both financially and by recruiting volunteers.

As someone who has worked in the non-profit sector for many years, I appreciate DFK's client-centeredness and fiscal responsibility. There is a level of excellence, efficiency and common sense that is far too rare in the NFP world.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Tom and his staff truely impact the lives of his kids and their families. Trust and credibility are two things that stand out about DFK. Those in need are well served with and amazing passion from all who come in contact with DFK.

Bob G

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Life takes you in many directions. I was fortunate to have been introduced to Tom Tuohy to learn more about Dreams for Kids and it's Social Entrepreneuship program. I quickly learned how valuable this program is in helping close the widening skills gap that exists in today's economy and future economy. I am also a non profit professional who is honored and humbled to be able to spread the Dreams for Kids story and raise awareness of this initiative across the Chicagoland business community.

Comments ( 1 )

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Tom Tuohy 07/03/2017

Thank you for this great review, Steve!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great organization doing great work. I helped at the 2016 Holiday for Hope event. Inspiring.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Dreams for Kids is an amazing organization. The Dream Leaders Social Entrepreneurship program provides students with the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to create their own social enterprise. Is their any greater service for our youth, than providing them with the education and opportunity to share their unique talents and ideas to create positive change in the world? Dreams for Kids is doing just that, and an incredible organization!

Comments ( 1 )

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Tom Tuohy 07/03/2017

Thank you so much!

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Passionate. Driven. Committed to access, equality, and opportunity, Dreams for Kids is one of the purest organizations in the world -- by this I mean, they exist to serve and they keep all activities focused on impact and outcomes.

Comments ( 1 )

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Tom Tuohy 07/22/2017

Thank you so much for this recognition!

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.

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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...

Comments ( 1 )

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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!

3 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!

Comments ( 1 )

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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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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

Comments ( 1 )

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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!