Why We Support the Sports-Based Youth Development Organization DREAM
By Melissa Wickes
August 30, 2022
At LeagueApps, we are committed to ensuring that kids from all walks of life and backgrounds have the amazing youth sports experiences that we did growing up—the ones that brought us to LeagueApps. Part of that commitment is FundPlay—our initiative to bring technology, training, and support to sports-based youth development organizations that invest in kids in underserved communities.
In addition to FundPlay grants and fundraisers, we are always looking for opportunities to volunteer our time at these impactful organizations. This summer, four members of the LeagueApps team dedicated six Saturdays to Charlie DREAM—a network of charter schools and community sports-based youth development programs working to remove barriers to success in underserved communities.
DREAM has been serving communities for thirty years, and currently provides programming to 2,000+ youth annually. Here are some important statistics about the children that DREAM impacts:
- 89% of DREAM scholars live below the poverty line
- 77% of DREAM’s East Harlem students live in public housing surrounding the school
- 28% of DREAM students have identified special needs, compared to the city’s average of 20%
Despite the challenges this community of students faces, their Charter High School graduation rate is 100%. DREAM provides youth with opportunities to play, learn, and grow by leveling the playing field and empowering all children to reach their full potential and realize their dreams.
We asked the LeagueApps team members who volunteered at DREAM this summer—Bharat Chopra, Bailey Holloway, Ryan Drzewiecki, and Ryan Bulaclac—to share a bit about their experience, here’s what they had to say:
“I was extremely nervous about committing six Saturdays of my summer to DREAM. I am so glad I did because in hindsight, spending two hours each weekend with those kids was the highlight of my summer! Within the first practice, their smiles, trust, and affection imprinted on me and I was theirs. From the first time Alonso leaned on me while playing third base, to when one of the more quiet boys whispered “the cheering makes me happy,” to Emmanuel running into me on the sidewalk and giving me a hug, I only hope I made a fraction of the impact they made on me. It’s so easy, spending all of my time behind a computer or in a boardroom, to lose sight of the impact I can make on both children and coaches in the youth sports industry. Thank you DREAM for helping me connect directly with our greater mission.”
– Bharat Chopra
“One morning while running drills with the kids, the coaches asked me to take a turn at bat so I could hit some balls out for the kids to practice catching. As someone with no experience playing baseball, I recoiled a bit about the idea of me trying to hit on target. Reflexively, I laughed and said “oh no I’m not going to be any good.” That’s when one student, Emmanuel, ran up to me and said “Coach Bailey, all you have to do is try your best.” This made me have a wow-I-really-need-to-not-impress-negative-self-talk-upon-these-kids kind of moment. Probably the third hit I swung went way too far by accident, and Emmanuel ran up to me, gave me a hug and said ‘See, I knew you could do it.’ The best part is, these moments weren’t a rarity at DREAM. Our players opened up their hearts to us as coaches and their families were so generous with their time. Our players practiced patience and worked as a team, learning that the success of a teammate can mean their success too (i e not every player needs to run after the ball after every hit). Five weeks was simply not enough time with these students and I can’t wait for next season.”
– Bailey Holloway