INDIANAPOLIS — A unique program in Indy is working to expose at-risk teens to their dream careers, and then providing them with the mentors to reach their goals.
DREAM Alive is a non-profit organization founded by former Colts player Tarik Glenn that equips urban youth in grades 7 through 12 with the skills to become civic-minded leaders.
The organization partners with local schools, business, and organizations to provide learning experiences and career development opportunities for teens.
DREAM Alive works with local businesses to set up multiple field trips throughout the year where students can learn about various industries and job opportunities.
"They don't have a clue what they want to do," says Site Director Stephen Smith. "A lot of our students don't think about the future or what they want to do so a lot of times when we go to different field trips; they cast a vision for their lives."
Smith and the students stopped by Gregory and Appel Insurance here in Indianapolis for a field trip where the business made learning about the insurance industry interactive and fun.
Arlington Middle School student Sade Daniels attended this field trip and has been a part of DREAM Alive for two years now.
"I like the field trips because we get to experience different companies," says Daniels. "You get to experience stuff you didn't know, and if you did know it, you can learn more stuff about it."
Daniels says she knew a little bit about insurance before coming on this trip from her parents, but now she knows a lot more about the industry and how it works and why it is so important.
For her, she wants to grow up and have a career that helps people, and so she is already thinking big for her future.
"When I am older I want to be a lawyer because I like helping people," says Daniels.
IUPUI student Keegan Jones is a success story from DREAM Alive. Right now, he's at the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI on a full ride scholarship all while working as an entrepreneur with his uncle on a food delivery service for students.
"It's a lot of work, but I am dedicated," says Jones. "This is what I like to do."
Jones was a part of DREAM Alive for several years and still feels a strong connection to the organization that he says helped him build essential networking skills.
"It was a great program that I was in. It actually helped me a lot as far as getting networks and connections," says Jones. "They've helped me with internships. They helped me with trying to learn about scholarships and helped me develop my character and be a person that I would be proud of."
DREAM Alive currently serves anywhere from 100 to 150 local students. The program provides mentors to help participants set up goals so they can achieve their dreams for the future.
Smith says that the needs vary from student to student with some knowing what they want for their futures and others needing a starting point.
"They just need a mentor to come alongside and challenge them to do better and hold them to a standard that they can achieve," says Smith.
"Other students know what they want to do and so this kind of helps them get further to where they are wanting to go."
He says creating SMART goals is part of that process. And often the exposure at these field trips to various jobs is just the kick that students need to get the gears turning in their heads and looking to their future.
"As it's happening, you see the light bulbs go off," says Smith.
DREAM Alive tries to plan at least 50 field trips for students each year along with other programming opportunities.
If you are a business owner and would like to take part in this by providing a field trip location, you can apply to be a partner by going to https://www.dreamaliveinc.org/partnership-form
You can learn more about opportunities through DREAM Alive by visiting https://www.dreamaliveinc.org, or you can call (317) 762-6353 for more information.