AIM, in partnership with the Montgomery County Public School System and the Montgomery County Recreation Department, created Dream Academy (formerly known as Child First), an innovative after-school and parent-organizing program that over time will help organize and serve thousands of families in our rapidly changing-county, where 55,000 MCPS students receive subsidized meals and the school system population is now nearly 70% students of color.
Providing affordable high quality after-school enrichment programs and engaging parents in the life of the school is one of the best ways to support children and families at struggling schools. Through a sustained effort that brought together leaders of AIM congregations, principals, teachers, and Recreation staff, AIM won free, high quality after school care in two high poverty elementary schools. Dream Academy kicked off this February and will run until June, providing 240 students with after school academic enrichment, recreation time, a nutritious meal, and AIM-facilitated parent organizing and engagement.
AIM is working to Expand Dream Academy to two additional schools in the new financial year. As part of this effort, AIM gathered at the Council Budget Hearing on April 5th to push the County Council to support the expansion. South Lake Elementary School student Chilson testified about Dream Academy in front of the County Council, sharing that Dream Academy has helped him stay out of trouble in school and that “the staff and teachers at Dream Academy help me focus and calm down when I need to… the teachers at Dream Academy have helped me do better in my regular school classes.” Chilson’s mother, Adeline, also testified. She spoke of the impact Dream Academy has had on her son’s grades and behavior in school, saying “The extra hour of academic support gives my son and other students the opportunity to fully learn concepts from the normal school day…I really do appreciate his teacher and the administration for supporting my son, but Dream Academy, I mean it, is something special. The academics enrichment my son receives is very impactful… He really really loves Dream Academy so much, there is no day he doesn’t tell me he is looking forward to it.” To see a video of Chilson and Adeline’s entire testimonies, and more photos from the hearing, visit our Facebook page by clicking here.