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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

15 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 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!

Previous Stories
1

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 Cindy167

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter Alexis has been invited to many extreme recess events. This is a great organization because they know exactly what kids need to be whole. They want to have fun.be like other kids.Leave their disability behind. They are going to remember they snow skiied,water skiied,fished,played baseball.A time when they soard and were free! All their lives! What a gift.what an organization Thanks for making my girl a standout in the game of life.

Client Served

Rating: 5

A big thank you to Tom and your whole organization for a wonderful water ski day...our son, has been attending for many years and looks forward to the day. The word LOVE was shown all day, by the delightful, helpful Hosts, the food crew, the boat drivers and helpers in the water, the fishing volunteers, who made him feel so good, with every catch!! It was a relaxing day for the parents too, as our children were well taken care of by their Hosts. Thank you for giving these young people the opportunity to be like everyone else, if only for a day. He took home many stories and of course, a tattoo to show his friends!! Looking forward to next year...thank you

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our family just attended the Dreams for Kids Extreme Recess adaptive waterskiing event in Twin Lakes, WI and it was a blast!! Our son is not able to experience standing up to waterski so a few years ago, we were invited to attend a waterskiing event where our son waterskied FOR THE FIRST TIME! This was his third year to ski and he loved it so much he didn't want to leave until he got "one more chance" to ski!! All the selfless Dreams for Kids team and volunteers are so giving and want everyone to have a great time. It is so impressive how dedicated they are to bringing joy to those with disabilities and they don't stop there. They also are so helpful to the families and provide fun for every member. We really appreciate the generosity and hearts of all involved!

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.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This was my family's second year at Extreme Recess and once again they did an amazing job! My entire family enjoyed the day but most of all my 8 year old with special needs. This organization does an exceptional job going beyond expectations in accommodating families with special needs children all you had to do was look at the faces of all the children participating and see the joy and what great work they were doing. This year my son decided to try the water skiing . The staff and volunteers were so patient and encouraging even though it took 30 min for him to work up the courage. After his ride he told everyone it was the best day off his life. Thank you so much for making that moment possible .

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son & I attended the Extreme Recess last week for the first time. He had a blast! My 12 year old son has special needs, so there aren't many extra curricular activities available for him, so anytime I hear of one we are all over it. What a great event! Everyone was so attentive, pleasant, patient, friendly & most important excepting. What a great event! I'd like to thank everyone involved in this event , especially our helper Ryan for the day. This to me was a success, my son had a smile the entire day & a pleasant sleep on the ride home.

katemyersny

Client Served

Rating: 5

For 1 day every year, me & my Joe are on vacation & we are lucky to spend our vacation within the the family Tom Toughy -created through "Dreams For Kids" & "Extreme Recess"


For 1 amazing day me & my 10 yr old son Joe are surrounded by total acceptance & help & comfort & fun & adventure.


For 1 amazing day a year we are at ease.


To see my son experience the joy & pride of water sports, navigating the BBQ buffet with his "friend / volunteer", waiting his turn & actually helping another child is beyond thrilling.


Joe is a very sassy, smart, funny kid with autism. & like every family welcomed to Extreme Recess we have our challenges.


Autism if brutal & hard & my son is an amazing kid. & My son's father is dead & my son's life is hard. & we go to Extreme Recess & land in the most amazing place!


1 day a year at Extreme Recess:

Total acceptance, positive peer models - seeing father's & adult males "showing up" & high fiving & cheering my son!


& Joe seeing the pleasure of doing & giving to others & so lucky to be on the receiving end of so much generosity!


Vacation:

Family

Fun

Acceptance

Love

Gratitude



P.S. To our volunteer Ciara - THANK YOU! You are amazing & patient & kind & we will not soon forget!

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

We had 6 fantastic hours @ Extrreme Recess hosted by Dreams for kids.
6 fantastic hours that were better than a 7 day vacation.

NEVER have my child & I been welcome & cared for by such an incredible staff.

To most children / familes a day @ the beach is exactly what is implied. A day @ the beach. Although my son & I have been to many beaches, our true & first day @ the beach, was with Extreme Recess hosted by Dreams for Kids Twin Lakes WI 2012.

& We are looking forward to Extreme Recess 2013

Client Served

Rating: 5

There are no words to adequately express my gratitude for Dreams for Kids. My son Matthew has so many fears which Dreams for Kids and its wonderful volunteers have helped to overcome. Still, the fear of going down a snow mountain was not only great but very much justified. Therefore, I was dumbfounded when he kept insisting that he wanted to do it, and on regular skis no less. Naturally we were all careful. Dreams for Kids volunteer Dave took Matthew on the smallest of the bunny hills and he alone went down the slope with Matthew. If you could see the stars in Matthew's eyes, it was a magical moment. They did it a few times but Matthew was not satisfied and insisted on going on a bigger hill, and so they did, two volunteers at that time. I must say I absolutely adore Dave, he kept taking Matthew up the slopes so many times, and it is hard for me to stop Matthew from having fun. Finally they all tired and when thought safe to let go of Matthew, they started talking. Matthew jumped at this opportunity and pushed himself to glide in the direction of a small slope. OMG, I ran after him thinking he'd be afraid. He was not, he was elated. Everybody stood stunned. It was a moment I will never forget. Of course he did not know how to take turns so I had to help, but let me tell you, this sight is so fresh in my mind as if it just happened. For days and weeks afterward Matthew begged me to go skiing again. There is no doubt we will be at the next skiing event and expect that Matthew will surprise as all.

Thank you, thank you, and again thank you. If it weren't for Dreams for Kids my son would never know he could ski, water ski, climb rocks, and many other physical pursuits he so enjoyed that Dreams for Kids staff made possible for him.

Elizabeth Halemba
A Proud Mom to Matthew

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son has been an active member of Dream for kids for about 9 years now. He was born with a physical disability and I’m so grateful for this organization for giving us hope.
We were accepted with open arms and my son has gained the confidence he needs to become an active member of his High School. My son has taken part in both the Water Ski and Snow Ski . His disability has never been an issue and he is able to take part in sports like any other child his age. I fully support and have great gratitude for all the work Dream for Kids has done to help children with exceptionalities!

2 Danielle31

Client Served

Rating: 5

Dreams for Kids, Inc. allowed my 8 year old daughter the opportunity to ski both on water and snow for the first time a couple years ago. They made Jaiden's dreams become a reality. I cannot put into words what it feels like when you see your child out of her wheelchair, flying down a snow hill smiling and screaming in excitement from ear to ear. I cannot describe to you in words that feeling, I only tears of joy. This was a dream I didn't know would ever be possible when I heard the diagnosis of cerebral palsy years ago.

Seeing a boat pier full of empty wheelchairs and watching those children in tubes and water skis pulled behind boats are all dreams becoming real. Dreams for Kids, Inc. events are a highlight for my family every single year and with every event. On the day of the events, it is the few times all year that my daughter and our family forget about cerebral palsy.

Dreams for Kids, Inc. is a truly amazing organization, making dreams happen is what they do. They also help children of all ages and disabilities believe in themselves. Dreams really can come true and this organization is proof of that.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I first heard of Dreams for Kids about 4 years ago and the first event I took my son to was water skiing. The fears my son has are so multiple and often so unreasonable so naturally I did not know what to expect. It took 5 volunteers over 30 min to coax him onto a modified water ski, who would have such patience. Lucky for me a photographer went on boat to take pictures and captured my son's elated joy upon return. He enjoyed it so very much and was so proud of his achievement. Since then we've been to every water ski event. My son also went snow skiing, again I did not think he'd be able to do it. With the help of two very strong volunteers he went up and down the slope. He loved it so much he did not want to take a lunch break. Since then my son experienced scuba diving, rock climbing, bocci and all sorts of other activities he would never have a chance to experience were it not for Dreams for Kids and for Tom Touhy. We are so grateful for Tom and all the volunteers at Dreams for Kids. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Elizabeth H.

Adam19

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son has participated in Extreme Recess and the Dream Leaders program through Dreams for Kids. It has been an enjoyable experience for not only him, but for my daughter as well. We are pleased to be affiliated with such a fine organization