New York, NY, June 07, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On Tuesday, June 5th, the “I Have A Dream” Foundation celebrated its annual Spirit of the Dream Gala at Guastavino’s in New York City. With the venue at maximum capacity, nearly 500 supporters, students, and alumni gathered to honor leaders who have made a transformative impact in building a more inclusive America and a more equitable education system. Honorees included: University of Pennsylvania President Dr. Amy Gutmann with the Eugene M. Lang Lifetime Achievement Award; Journalist and host of NPR’s Latino USA Maria Hinojosa with the David N. Dinkins Social Justice Award, presented by the Honorable David N. Dinkins; Boxed Founder & CEO Chieh Huang with the Corporate Partnership Award; and Dreamer Alumnus Lowell K. Davis, PhD with the “Spirit of the Dream” Award.

In addition to proceeds from ticket sales, nearly $140,000 were raised during the evening’s event to support programming like the “Dream Accounts” College Savings Accounts program, mentorship, college readiness programming, and Dream UP, the organization’s summer college immersion program. Board member Jeff Gural also announced a matching donation for proceeds raised during the event, which will be used by the “I Have A Dream” Foundation’s New York affiliate to open a new program in the Chelsea Elliot houses.

Honoree Chieh Huang, CEO & Founder of Boxed, said, "Tonight's gala is all about opportunity. It's about the thousands of young people we're empowering through access to education, to reach their full potential." Huang, a first generation college graduate, was recognized for his own commitment to education access, which he has demonstrated through his promise to personally pay the college tuition of all of his employees’ children.  

Eugena Oh, “I Have A Dream” Foundation’s President & CEO, shared, “we are thrilled to be shining a spotlight on these exemplary leaders who are throwing open the doors to educational access and opportunity for all. We are exceptionally proud that three of our honorees are first-generation, low-income students themselves. We hope that our Dreamers around the country can look to these leaders as inspiration for everything that they can achieve.”

“Nadie te lo puede quitar,” shared honoree Maria Hinojosa, founder and President of the Futuro Media Group. “No one can take away the education that we have. No one can take away the lessons that we are learning. No one can take away our capacity to look at our society critically and yet with heart. And we need that now more than ever. So thank you so much for this award, and thank you so much for all of your hard work.”  

“It is a special honor for me to be presented with the Eugene M. Lang Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Dr. Amy Gutmann. “We are incredibly proud that more than two-thirds of undergraduates at Penn graduate debt-free. But there is so much more that needs to be done, and that we can do together. None of our children should be limited in what they can achieve because they cannot afford an excellent education, or because of other external circumstances that we collectively have the power to change. I applaud the excellent work of the ‘I Have a Dream’ Foundation for giving thousands of students the opportunity to fully pursue their talent and passion.”

During her tenure as President of the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Gutmann has been a strong advocate for access and inclusivity in higher education. Penn is the largest university, and one of just 14 schools in the entire country, to provide all-grant financial aid to its students. In the Penn Class of 2022 that was just admitted, one in seven undergraduates is a first-generation student; more than a quarter of the class is low-income, first-generation or both; and more than half identify as minority.


About the “I Have A Dream” Foundation:

The “I Have A Dream” Foundation (IHDF) is a leading education nonprofit focused on breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty through a comprehensive program of support that follows the same group of young people (“Dreamers”) from elementary school all the way through college. Founded 37 years ago through the vision of Eugene Lang, IHDF currently has 16 affiliates in 13 cities and has served over 18,000 Dreamers.

The numbers: 51% of students in U.S. public schools—over 25 Million children—are low-income, and only 9% of low-income students earn a bachelor’s degree, compared to 77% of their high-income peers. 90% of Dreamers complete high school, compared to 70% of their low-income peers, representing an additional $2.9 Billion in earnings over their lifetimes. Dreamers are over 3 times more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than their low-income peers. Without this level of support, the cycle of poverty continues: 65% of children whose parents have no more than a high school diploma live in poverty. Now, 37 years after Eugene M. Lang’s life changing promise, Dreamers have children who are attending college themselves.

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Kaitlin Archambault
I Have A Dream Foundation