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American Dream Academy receives grant to expand programming


May 11, 2011

The American Dream Academy (ADA) has received a three-year, $165,561 grant from The Steele Foundation of Phoenix to expand its school-based program for low-income families so they may achieve educational success and prepare for college admission.

Founded in 2006 as the signature program of the Center for Community Development and Civil Rights (CDCR), ADA has reached over 19,000 parents through a free 10-week interventional program that teaches them how to create a positive learning environment at home, build self-esteem, and work with their child’s teacher to prepare for post-secondary education.  Over 41,000 Maricopa County students have a parent who has attended an American Dream Academy program.

Marianne Cracchiolo Mago, president of The Steele Foundation, says support of the program was a natural fit for them.  “It goes right to the heart of what we have to address for success both economically and socially – strengthening our families, increasing graduation rates, and creating true generational change.”

ADA has worked in more than 125 Title 1 schools, returning to some of them each year, since its founding.  In doing so, it has become a model of university and community partnership by providing the means for disenfranchised populations to access mainstream opportunities in both the community and university setting.  In 2009, ADA won the C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the oldest higher education association in America.

The Steele Foundation’s investment will be used to help ADA work at a larger scale and have greater impact on the future college going rates of low-income populations in Maricopa County. “Parental understanding of the education system and increased involvement in the lives of their children will help Arizona to become a stronger competitor nationally and globally,” says Mago.

Founded in 1980 by Horace W. Steele, The Steele Foundation has awarded more than $60 million in grants to over 300 nonprofit organizations throughout Arizona.

“The Steele Foundation recognizes the unprecedented and complex challenges future generations will face, and realizes that we must begin preparing them now,” says Alejandro Perilla, director of CDCR.  “Programs that work with large constituencies need to grow at a rapid pace in order to have any chance of being effective. Partners like The Steele Foundation allow us to do that.”