One evening, last spring, I attended yet another fundraising event for yet another nonprofit organization serving kids in Colorado. As is often the case, I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be better to stay home and watch television? It’s important to note that I would rather be watching television 90% of the time. I know that may depress most Coloradans, but alas I do my best to bring some extracurricular diversity to the state.

Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation was the beneficiary and organizer of this particular event, and I am pleased to share that the evening ended up being incredibly inspiring and now I am hooked. From the kid who was the DJ, to the art, to the vision, I’m now all in on the dreamers.

Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation’s mission is to partner with youth and their families as they navigate school, college, and career by providing a holistic academic, social, and emotional program from elementary school through college, along with postsecondary scholarship assistance.

As with so many organizations, there is power in the backstory. In 1981, New York businessman Eugene Lang founded the “I Have a Dream” Foundation when, prior to giving a speech at his former middle school in Harlem, he was told that 75% of the students in attendance would drop out before graduating from high school. 

This was so alarming to Eugene that he changed his speech on the spot and offered to pay the college tuition of every student in the room that day. Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the “I Have a Dream” movement began and now has over 60 independent nonprofits in cities across the United States, Canada and New Zealand and has served over 17,000 sponsored students. 

My husband and I spent the early part of the evening at Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation’s event exploring the different activities students in the program regularly enjoy. We spent time learning chess from National Chess Master Lior Lapid. We thought we knew how to play chess, but apparently there’s the chess we learned from our parents, and then there’s actual chess which is much more complex and interesting. Kids learn from this master and come to recognize chess as a tool to enhance their critical thinking skills and cognitive decision-making ability.

Lior has been coaching chess to students of all ages for over 25 years and has been featured in Chess Life Magazine, on CNN and NPR, and has extensive experience working as head instructor in dozens of school chess clubs and summer chess camps in Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Virginia, Mexico and Israel. We were pleased that evening to see him receive the annual Community Champion Award.

Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation is putting the building blocks in place for students and their families to be successful. The support is very customized with a focus on what each child needs whether it be academic success, a strong social network, social and emotional life skills, financial literacy, career readiness or health and wellness. 

This organization is nimble and works with all students to create a holistic plan for success. We know that now, more than ever, kids need mental health support and Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation is there to help. Using evidence-based methods, the clinical team provides tools to ensure that kids can be successful now and into the future.

Program sites are throughout the metro area and the organization has now served 1,000 youth and their families in Colorado. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer or tutor, please check out their site at And if service is not your style, consider attending their annual event and you won’t be bored, and you may even learn how to play chess.

Eugene Lang urged those students in 1981 to dream with a promise to do all he could to help them achieve their goals. We’re fortunate now to have the opportunity to carry his legacy forward with our local Colorado “I Have a Dream” Foundation. We can inspire the next generation of dreamers.