For over three decades, DREAM has worked to level the playing field for all children, helping them become lifelong learners who are equipped to fulfill their vision of success in and out of the classroom.
On an abandoned lot in East Harlem, DREAM was born.
Then known as Harlem RBI, DREAM was founded in 1991 when a group of volunteers transformed an abandoned, garbage-strewn lot into two baseball diamonds for the youth of East Harlem—establishing themselves on what The New York Times once called “the worst block in NYC.” Those first Harlem RBI volunteers knew that having a safe place to play in this community was no small thing. They knew that the children and families of East Harlem deserved more.
As we grew over time, Harlem RBI began to address the greater needs of the East Harlem community—like low literacy and high school graduation rates—through our summer and afterschool enrichment program. The results were undeniable. Graduation rates improved, college acceptance rates increased, and a large majority of our kids avoided summer learning loss. But we soon found that confining our work to out-of-school-time was not enough.
- jason medina, DREAM alum
growing roots in the community, we built the first public school in East Harlem in 50 years.
In 2008, DREAM Charter School was founded in East Harlem, making it possible for our model to be applied on an extended-day, extended-year basis. We cut the ribbon at our founding school location, 1991 Second Avenue, in 2015.
The project was ambitious—the first public school building constructed in East Harlem in 50 years—and also included the East Harlem Center for Living and Learning, a 160,000-square foot multi-family and mixed-use building that consists of 89 affordable housing units and rehabilitated park space.
During this time, DREAM also launched our Legends program, which to this day provides up to six years of intensive postsecondary support to alumni of DREAM’s schools and programs.
We're in this for the long game.
years of impact
youth served each year
DREAM Charter High School graduation rate
In 2017, Harlem RBI officially rebranded as DREAM.
As DREAM, we continued to expand our reach and impact, opening DREAM Charter High School in 2017 and, more recently, DREAM Mott Haven and DREAM Highbridge in the Bronx, which will both serve Grades PreK-8 at scale.
Now, three decades since our inception on that abandoned lot in East Harlem, DREAM is a network of PreK-12, extended-day, extended-year public charter schools and community-based youth programs working to level the playing field for all children.
dream’s major milestones
Harlem RBI is founded as a volunteer-run Little League in East Harlem.
Harlem RBI goes to first RBI World Series in St. Louis.
Harlem RBI launches its softball program after a group of girls march into the office and demand a league of their own.
Richard Berlin joins Harlem RBI as a volunteer baseball coach.
Our REAL Kids summer learning predecessor, Project Grand Slam, begins as a pilot program.
When the City attempts to repossess the Field of Dreams, our community rallies on the steps of City Hall to save the field they love.
Richard Berlin is named Executive Director.
Our summer learning program, REAL Kids, is launched as a tie-in to our sports-based programs.
Harlem RBI officially gains nonprofit 501 (c)(3) status.
The first meeting focused on the idea of opening a charter school is held.
The Field of Dreams reopens after a major renovation.
Our college preparation program, DreamWorks, begins.
DREAM Charter School is founded in East Harlem.
Eve Colavito joins DREAM as part-time Director of Instruction.
Our Annual Gala breaks its fundraising record with $1.57 million raised.
Our Legends program launches to support alumni, ensure completion of their post-secondary paths, and launch them into their career fields.
Our out-of-school time model expands to the South Bronx.
DREAM’s anchor location officially opens at 1991 Second Avenue as part of the East Harlem Center for Living and Learning. It's the first public school building constructed in East Harlem in 50 years.
DREAM Charter School and Harlem RBI rebrand as one organization named DREAM.
DREAM Charter High School is founded.
The organization’s first school in the South Bronx, DREAM Mott Haven Elementary School, opens its doors.
DREAM Charter High School graduates its first-ever 12th grade class.
Richard Berlin and Eve Colavito become co-Chief Executive Officers.
DREAM Mott Haven Middle School opens.
DREAM Highbridge Elementary School opens, deepening the organization’s commitment to and impact in the Bronx.
DREAM launches an Alumni Council to center the alumni voice in DREAM’s strategic decisions and engage a growing alumni network.
DREAM Charter School at 20 Bruckner, the organization’s second anchor location, officially opens its doors.