Annually, the U.S. Dream Academy’s gala is a much-anticipated, well-attended, and successful event, hosted by the Academy’s founder, Wintley Phipps, and its Board of Directors. This year was no exception. The Living the Dream/Rising Above the Clouds gala on May 8, 2018 in Washington, DC was a spectacular celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the U.S. Dream Academy – and record-setting fundraiser to support the Academy’s mission to help our nation’s children reach their dreams.
Larenz Tate – actor, director, producer, and activist – and Triscina Grey – WHUR 96.3 radio personality kept things lively and upbeat as co-hosts for the evening. An exuberant performance by the Academy’s Dream Kids and a poignant keynote address by teen alumni Emy Edouard added to the energy and excitement. An entertaining performance of Higher by rising R&B star, Tracey Phipps, was also a highlight.
Earlier in the year, students of the U.S. Dream Academy were encouraged to participate in a special contest, presented by Amway in partnership with the Academy. Students were asked to submit package designs for Amway’s new packaging for XS™ Gum. Many students submitted creative entries, and three landed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. The first-place winner, Kaleem Payne, was recognized at the gala.
During the event, The Dreamblazer Award was presented to Mpumi Nobiva, an entrepreneur and mentor. David Shapiro, CEO of MENTOR, the national mentoring partnership, received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Award. And, as a wonderful surprise, Cicely Tyson was given the President’s Award in person. The iconic Emmy and Tony award-winning actress and former model, now 93 years old, was greeted by a standing ovation and thunderous applause. Tyson captivated the audience with her ageless style and warmth, delivering a heartfelt message to the children, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, and leading the children in singing, Jesus Loves Me.
A new award, the Victor Scholarship, established by IBO Crowns Jody and Kathy Victor, was announced. This award will be presented annually to a U.S. Dream Academy student who unequivocally demonstrates the strong values of the Academy.
At the close of this special evening, founder Wintley Phipps sparked even more enthusiasm by announcing they were just $120,000 shy of this year’s gala fundraising goal of one million dollars. Within minutes, attendees opened their hearts and raised their hands to pledge the additional dollars. At the same time via text, Oprah Winfrey, matched the total contributions – donating $1.2 million!
The Living the Dream/Rising Above the Clouds gala raised over one million dollars in support of the U.S. Dream Academy. Thanks to the generosity of many national celebrities, well-respected companies, and gala sponsors such as Amway and the IBOAI, the Academy will continue their innovative afterschool and mentoring program, operating in 7 cities nationwide. Learn more about the U.S. Dream Academy and its programs and events at usdreamacademy.org.