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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

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


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!!

Board Member

Rating: 5

There are a lot of ways to spend your life. Many are absorbed with self-importance. Others like Tom Tuohy and Dreams for Kids are absorbed with significance - with making a real difference in this world, one kid at a time. Tom founded Dreams for Kids in Chicago in 1989 and his vision continues to be realized every day in the lives of thousands and thousands of at-risk youth. Dreams for Kids is uniquely powerful and effective because it focuses on giving our most challenged population, those who are disadvantaged for any reason, a hand up rather than a hand out. By teaching them social entrepreneurship skills, these at-risk youth move from being victims to being solutions, active agents for positive change in their communities and in the world. While others treat the symptoms of poverty, disability, disadvantage and yes, even affluence, Tom and DFK treat the real causes. DFK is a world changer. Amid all the challenges we face in this world, none is more significant than creating hope for our at risk youth. They are everywhere, and sadly, the problem is getting worse, not better. We owe them better. They do not want our charity, they want our love, our respect and they want an opportunity for a better future. This is a noble journey - it is life giving and life changing for anyone who will join hands with us. Take a hand up, give a hand up. Make a difference. Come join us and be changed in the significance!

Previous Stories


Rating: 5

BE the change that you want to see in the world! I know of no other organization that better exemplifies this leadership way of life better than Tom Tuohy and Dreams for Kids. I was first exposed to Dreams for Kids through Kellogg Innovation Network (KIN), a world class organization of leaders from diverse backgrounds motivated to change the world by leading lives of significance. I witnessed first hand the power of Tom's work during an emotional presentation by some of Tom's Dream Leaders, and the experience changed my life. Dreams for Kids is about noble innovation with purpose - creating change one child at a time, one life at a time, and being transformed yourself during the process. Amid all the challenges of the world, none is more difficult or important than creating hopeful change for our "at-risk" youth. They are everywhere among us - stricken by poverty. disability, affluence (higher percentage of substance abuse anxiety depression and suicide among affluent children than their inner city peers), and yes, the children of active military personnel - 2 million and counting. It is simply unsustainable for the future of the world to have that future arrive unhealthy, unskilled, uneducated or not alive to see it. Through Dreams for Kids, I know of one answer to these challenges that really works. I have seen it. I have met it. And I have shed tears for these children. They are waiting to be the solution instead of the problem. They do not want charity. They want opportunity. The opportunity to be the change. During this crazy political season that seems to bring out the worst in us, I invite you to take an intentional excursion - spend a little time with Tom Tuohy and Dreams for Kids. Visit his website at dreamsforkids.org. Make a donation. Make a difference. You will feel better about yourself and take a step toward BEING the change we so desperately need in this world!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Dreams for Kids is a wonderful organization that teaches at risk youth(students who suffer from poverty, depression, or lack of family involvement ) valuable career and life skills that will allow them to live healthier, more financially stable lives and stay away from gangs, drugs, and poverty. With skills in financial management, writing, and fundraising, these students not only have increased knowledge of how to succeed in the real world, but also learn how to support their communities by understanding how they can give back and help others in need


Board Member

Rating: 5

I met Tom and DFK about 2 years ago, initially as a consultant. What blew me away was the stories behind the DFK "story", equally touching. Highly recommend reading Tom's book, "Changing the World, one person at a Time". Because the impact is really all about the lives they touch and change for a lifetime. The Dream Leaders program (social enterprise curriculum for at risk youth) is the differentiator for me. The ability to inspire at-risk youth, many at the poverty line themselves to look beyond and realize that they have the ability to transform the lives of those even less fortunate. While the program certainly develops skills and experiences not normally found in classroom, more importantly it creates better human beings. That's powerful.