CBS Cares is airing Public Service Announcements (PSAs) focused on the I Have A Dream Foundation (IHDF) which will reach an estimated 75 to 100 million viewers over the holiday season.
CBS celebrities who are featured in the PSAs include: Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory), LL Cool J (NCIS: Los Angeles), Luis Guzmán (Code Black), Jeff Probst (Survivor), Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds), Tom Selleck (Blue Bloods), Chi McBride (Hawaii Five-0), Tea Leoni (Madam Secretary) and more.
Through its national office and 16 affiliates across the country, IHDF focuses on supporting students in under-resourced public schools. But this isn’t a typical financial assistance or scholarship program. IHDF chooses entire classes of students and supports them from early elementary school all the way through college. This long-term support program is aimed at increasing high school graduation and college completion.
Every student in the program receives guaranteed tuition assistance for higher education as well as continued support on their college journey. Since 1981, “I Have A Dream” programs have operated in 28 states, Washington, D.C., and New Zealand, together serving nearly 17,000 students.
“Educational success doesn’t happen overnight. It results from ongoing support, beginning early in life. In addition to financial support, we provide students academic support, life skills, mental and social encouragement,” said Donna A. Lawrence, President and CEO of the National “I Have A Dream” Foundation. “We’ve put the dream of a college education within reach for tens of thousands of our Dreamers across the country.”
The “I Have A Dream” Foundation’s mission is more urgent than ever. Data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that just nine percent of students from low-income families receive a Bachelor’s degree, and a new national study by the Southern Education Foundation found that more than half of public school students are from low-income families. Research from the Hamilton Project demonstrates that low-income students who never go on to receive a Bachelor’s degree are likely to remain in poverty all their lives.
In contrast, students who have passed through IHDF’s program (dubbed “Dreamers”) are approximately twice as likely to receive a Bachelor’s degree as their low-income peers, drastically improving a student’s ability of landing a higher paying job.
“The ‘I Have A Dream’ program was monumental for me,” says Dreamer alumna Zairia Benjamin, an accomplished social worker. “My earliest memories always involve the volunteers who made me feel important because of how much they invested in me. I am lucky to be a product of their investment, and appreciative and aware of how much I was given and the kind of support a person needs to do well.”
The CBS Cares attention comes at a crucial point for the foundation’s future; IHDF, which celebrates its 35th anniversary next year, is gearing up to launch an ambitious growth plan to significantly increase the program’s reach and capacity. Over the next five years, IHDF intends to triple the total number of active Dreamers in the program from 3,200 to 10,000 and double their footprint by doubling their network from 16 to 32 local “I Have A Dream” affiliates around the country. Since 1986, nearly 17,000 Dreamers have completed the IHDF program. If successful, IHDF’s growth plan will help thousands of students break the cycle of poverty.
The CBS Cares PSA campaign airs nationally and locally in Denver, Miami, and Los Angeles.