DREAM Alive: Building Dreams and Breaking Down Barriers

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Writer / Janelle Morrison

DREAM Alive, founded by Tarik and Maya Glenn, is an Indianapolis-based 501(c)(3) that exists to equip urban youth in grades 7-12 to become civic-minded leaders. They do this by providing their scholars with three key opportunities: mentoring relationships, character development and experiential learning. The end product is a group of young men and women of integrity and character who are confident, skilled and willing to serve their community.

Tarik Glenn & Dwayne Allen

DREAM Alive serves approximately 784 students. Glenn used his celebrity as a former member of the Indianapolis Colts to influence and mentor the next generation of leaders. Glenn officially became president of DREAM Alive in late 2011 and works tirelessly for DREAM Alive to provide hands-on leadership.

“My wife Maya and I utilized the platform that I had while I played for the Colts to create DREAM Alive,” Glenn explained. “One of the things that inspired us was that we wanted to give back to the inner-city communities and create something where we could give back together. Maya was a public health major and received her masters in public health at IUPUI. I was a social welfare major, and we both benefited from community outreach programs.

“We both benefited from the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) programs for inner city youth, and I went to a Boys and Girls Club. We are both products of inner city programs, and we feel that they gave us access to places that we would not have naturally had access to.

“When we had the first opportunity to provide services for communities that were underrepresented, we acted on it. One of the strategies that we focus on is how to raise necessary funds and awareness to build our nonprofit and be competitive. We strive to find ways to stand out and still provide unique services.

“One of our strategies is to develop and maintain strong corporate sponsorships that are looking to reach and assist communities that really are underserved. Companies like Bastian Solutions, American Structurepoint and the Indianapolis Colts organization have stepped in and offered not only financial contributions, but we will open up their businesses and give our scholars access with experiential learning trips where the students will learn about different jobs and job skills that are available to them. This allows our kids to dream beyond their circumstances.”

Support from the local businesses is essential in sustaining organizations like DREAM Alive, and the business partners that support DREAM Alive engage because they share a philosophy with the organization that the community’s youth is a community’s future. For example, Bastian Solutions will hire students from within the DREAM Alive program and place them in jobs within their corporation.

In addition to the business community’s support, the DREAM Alive organization recognizes the importance of having positive mentors on board to work with and help raise up their scholars.

Dwayne Allen, Player Executive for DREAM Alive, has stepped into a leadership role within the organization to assist with Glenn’s mission. Allen, tight end for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, is making an impact in the lives of Indianapolis at-risk youth. Allen serves not only as the professional face of the organization but also participates in program development and implementation.

“I grew up in the inner city of Fayetteville, North Carolina,” Allen said. “My story resonates so well with the children that we impact at DREAM Alive. I spend every opportunity that I get to spend with our kids. I see so much of myself in each and every one of them. I didn’t have anyone to look up to or have someone who looked like me, who came from similar situations as me, trying to inspire me. That is why I am passionate about wanting the kids to want more in their lives.

“I want them to understand that regardless of where you come from, how you were raised or who you were raised by, you can’t allow your circumstances to dictate who you who are or who you want to be. That’s what our mission is all about. We educate the kids and provide resources and knowledge, so that they can go and be successful in their lives.”

Allen will host the annual Wishing on Stars benefit on Monday, September 14 at Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Indianapolis. An annual event since 2004, Wishing on Stars was first hosted by former Indianapolis Colts Tight End Marcus Pollard. Fellow Colts players, Indiana Pacers, Indy 500 drivers and other local celebrities are expected to attend the event.

The evening will feature a cocktail reception, followed by celebrity introductions, dinner and a silent and live auction. The players and other celebrities are willing to sign autographs, serve cocktails, personalize voicemails, perform guests’ favorite songs and spend time with attendees in a relaxed, enjoyable private environment of 150-200 guests.

In addition to Allen, numerous fellow Colts players are expected to attend. Past attendees include Glenn, Pat McAfee, Tamika Catchings, Anthony Castanzo, T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener, Matt Hasselbeck, Dallas Clark, Peyton Manning, David Thornton, Jeff Saturday, Ken Dilger, Roy Hibbert, Reggie Wayne, Marcus Pollard, Bob Sanders, Joseph Addai, Gary Brackett, Marlin Jackson, Robert Mathis, Chris Lytle and more.

“This event is our largest fundraiser for DREAM Alive, and all of the resources that are collected go directly towards the kids and to supply our DREAM coaches with resources that they need to impact their lives,” Allen explained. “Businesses can donate monetarily, and that helps to supply the necessary resources, but what is most costly to the businesses and is most cherished by DREAM Alive is the organization’s time.

“By them opening their doors to our programs so that we can take the kids to different businesses around Indianapolis and around the state, we can expose the kids to things outside of the inner city. Little by little, this begins to break down the barriers of their world. We take them for walks around university campuses or to a business like WTHR or a military base to expose them,so that they can begin to dream bigger.

“As we continue to grow and obtain more funding, we can expand our reach and develop a model that is replicable in cities throughout the country. Our goal is to replicate the programs in all NFL host cities and team up with players from those teams who will then engage their local school corporations.

“Here in Indianapolis, we want to expand in all IPS schools and surrounding areas, so that we can serve the underserved and fill in the gaps, so that no child falls in between. We want to see all children have opportunities to resources that they need to become successful adults. Ultimately, that is how it should be.”

For more information about the DREAM Alive, visit dreamaliveinc.org.

Wishing on Stars is by invitation only or purchased ticket. Tables for the event are available for purchase in denominations between $3,000 and $5,000. Individual tickets can be purchased for $500.

For additional event information or to inquire about guest list consideration, VIP Tables, press or sponsorships, please contact Jen Beaver, 317-496-7898, [email protected], and Klint Briney, 305-915-7652, [email protected].