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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

42 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!!

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

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!

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...

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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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!

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.

Comments ( 1 )

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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!

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

Comments ( 1 )

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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!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm an IBEW Local 134 electrician, I volunteered at our union hall for their christmas gift wrapping. It was a great time. I had so much that I invited family members and their friends, they also enjoyed themselves and looked forward to the event each year. I hope they will make arrangements to return to our hall in 2016 so that we can experience that joy of giving.

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Tom Tuohy 12/16/2015

Thank you so much for your review and for volunteering at our event. We love our long history with IBEW and our long time at Local #134 Hall. We wish it was bigger! It is a great space, but as the event grew and the kids lined up, we had to move to the Broadway Armory to fit 2,000 people! We hope you can join us there this Saturday or some year in the future. Thanks again to you, your family and your friends!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What a great experience! I have volunteered for several Dreams for Kids events, including Extreme Recess and Holiday for Hope. It is so wonderful to see the smiles on every one's faces, kids and adults alike! Dreams for Kids really does great things for the community. I will be participating for years to come.

Comments ( 1 )

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Tom Tuohy 12/16/2015

Thank you for your volunteer service and long term commitment~! It means the world!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered for Dreams for Kids Holiday for Hope event . It's a great event because it brings everything about the holiday season to children who normally wouldn't be able to experience it. Everyone who works there is so passionate about their cause that its truly contagious. It's one organization that I will continue to volunteer for every year.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Dreams for Kids for many years. It's a great organization because everyone is extremely passionate about helping kids. I volunteer for both yearly events; The Holiday for Hope and Extreme Recess. Both of these events directly impact the lives of kids in need. Each year is better than the last!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am not a rich person (financially) and I don’t have a lot of time on my hands. However, after being a volunteer for a Dreams for Kids (DFK) event called Holiday for Hope several years ago, I had decided to get more involved. I learned that not only does DFK provided children in the Chicago area with a holiday celebration they would not otherwise have due to poverty/low income or financially less fortunate, I had also learned they opened up another realm of charity to children with disabilities with events called Extreme Recess! This is where children with disabilities could water ski, snow ski, and a ton of other fun, outdoor activities that they would not have access to if it wasn’t for DFK’s! Since the first packing party event I attended, which prepares toy bags for the Holiday for Hope party, I have felt a strong connection and I have personally held yearly toy drives at my office, donated funds, volunteered at Texas Holdem fundraisers, volunteered at a Twin Lakes summer water sports and other fundraising events. There is nothing like this charity in all of Chicago as DREAMS FOR KIDS hold all kinds of events all year long, and there’s nothing like the smile on a child’s face that is result of Dreams For Kids.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the honor of working with Dreams For Kids Extreme Recess for the past 4 years. DFK, Tom, Shelly and the rest of the staff are amazing. They provide so many people opportunities that kids would never dream of. It is so much fun to be a part of such a great day out on the lake making kids' dreams come true.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with the Dreams For Kids, Inc. Extreme Water Ski event on July 30th, 2015. It was a great experience. It was very nice to see families enjoying the BBQ style event. There were many activities available to the families including adaptive water skiing, kayaking, fishing, and much more. The young lady I was working with especially enjoyed fishing! Everybody had a smile on their face the whole day, what a great experience!
Thanks Dreams for Kids for putting together an unforgettable event!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at this year's Extreme Recess and it was a phenomenal experience. The event had many activities such as face painting, adaptive water-skiing, canoe rides, water slides, etc. The volunteers were all very accommodating and the happiness on the faces of the families/children was truly inspiring. This is an extraordinary organization and I look forward to volunteering for many events in the near future.