Dream Academy: Volunteer Mentor Opportunities

Posted by U.S. Dream Academy on August 6, 2019

Dream Academy Learning Mentor Program

 The U.S. Dream Academy is an after-school program that aims to break the cycle of incarceration by giving children the skills and vision necessary to lead productive and fulfilling lives. Since its inception in 1998, U.S. Dream Academy has served over 1500 students in neighborhoods where incarceration is a major problem. U.S. Dream Academy’s model combines strong academic-support with one-to-one mentoring in a single, community-based after-school setting. U.S. Dream Academy was one of the first non-profits to launch this model for children of prisoners distinct from other programs that often do not provide all the major program elements in one location.

U.S. Dream Academy is a non-profit organization committed to empowering children who are at risk of incarceration to maximize their potential by providing them with academic, social and values enrichment through supportive Mentoring and the use of technology.

Menu of Volunteer Opportunities:

One-on-One Mentoring – Work one-on-one with a child once a week for one hour a week engaging in learning activities, arts & crafts, games, and more to help the child build a trusting relationship with a caring adult.  This opportunity involves a commitment of one hour per week for one year.

Homework Helper/Reading Buddy – Assist a small group of children with homework assignments and reading activities. This opportunity involves a minimum commitment of one hour per week for three months.

Dream Team Ambassador – Utilize your social and professional networks to connect the U.S. Dream Academy to potential mentors and lucrative partnerships. As a Dream Team Ambassador you will be a part of a team of men and women who believe in the mission and vision of the U.S. Dream Academy. Dream Team Ambassadors meet once a month to collaborate and develop creative events and initiatives to engage the local political, social, faith-based, and business communities in the work of the U.S. Dream Academy.

Base Camp (Group Mentoring) – Host a Base Camp Group to provide students an opportunity to explore your area of expertise/interest (i.e. cooking, photography, fashion design, sports, dance, visual arts, music, science, engineering and more). As a Base Camp Facilitator, you will facilitate weekly sessions teaching students the basics of your area of interest/skill.  Facilitators will lead students in creating a final product/project to present at the end of the year.  This opportunity involves a commitment of one hour a week once a week for an academic year.

Minimum Commitment – 1 Year/ Academic School Year

Contact Frequency – Weekly/Biweekly

Average Hours per week – 1 hr. or 4 Hrs. a month

*Individual must be at least 18 years of age, complete an FBI background check and required training upon confirmation of mentor acceptance.

Mentor Inquiry Link

Mentor Description:

  • Serve as positive role model and friend thru ongoing, 1-on-1 relationship
  • Take lead in helping a young person develop positive dreams for their lives, equipping them with the tools to make those dreams reality
  • Cultivate developmental competencies through prescribed activities, conversation, and interactive projects
  • Assist Mentee in enhancing their self-image through character building and dream building


  • Make a one-year commitment to developing and maintaining a Mentor relationship with a student in an after-school program context
  • Attend Mentor orientation and training session before meeting Mentee
  • Attend ongoing Mentor training and support sessions
  • Meet one hour weekly with your Mentee
  • Keep time logs and other information as requested by Mentor Coordinator


  • Ability to communicate with a student openly and non-judgmentally
  • Strong listening skills
  • Ability to establish a relationship based on equal responsibility and respect
  • Interest in needs and concerns of children who are at risk of incarceration
  • Practical problem-solving skills and ability to suggest options and alternatives
  • Sensitivity to persons of different educational, economic, cultural or racial backgrounds

Benefits of Mentors:

  • Personal fulfillment through contribution to community and individual
  • Satisfaction in helping someone mature, progress, and achieve goals
  • Training sessions based on Search Institute’s Developmental Relationship Framework
  • Personal ongoing support and supervision to help the match succeed
  • Recognition events and annual celebration of National Mentor Month
  • Screening Process
  • Dream Academy paper application, including references
  • Fingerprinting and background check (no cost to mentor)
  • Mentor orientation training

Desired Skills and Experience: This position requires the following skills: STEM, Literacy / Reading, Child Care, Youth Services, Child Welfare, Child Development

Contact: Mentor Coordinator Alicia Strange at astrange@usdreamacademy.org, Dream Academy Learning Center @ G.W. Child’s School, 1599 Wharton Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146, (215) 339-1090.


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