Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: U.S. Dream Academy - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: U.S. Dream Academy

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By Joe Birch - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Mentors in Memphis are making a difference in the lives of children whose parents are behind bars. 

Alcy Elementary is home to the Memphis chapter of the U.S. Dream Academy, which is now in ten cities nationwide. Its main focus is helping children who have a parent behind bars.

"Here at the Dream Academy, we strive to show them they have other options and they don't have to follow the same path," Director Chiquita Allen said.

30 of the 60 youngsters who attend this after-school program have a parent in prison.

"My father has a history of incarceration," Allen said.

Allen shares her story so these kids can see success is possible, even if Mom or Dad is away for awhile.

"This is something I know you can do, because I've done it myself," Allen said.

Teaching skills, good character and inviting children to dream, the program depends on mentors who devote one hour a week to the same child:

"These are kids in our community," Mentor Coordinator Connie Ellis said. "People complain about crime and some of the behavior of kids. If you can't reach out to a child and step into their life and help them, how can you complain?"

Mentors have to undergo a background check and training. But they get to help youngsters overcome challenges at home and dream big.

If you would like to become a mentor at the U.S. Dream Academy, click here, or call 652-4980 to learn more.

We're always interested in what solution-oriented people like those at the U.S. Dream Academy are doing to Take Back Our Neighborhoods! Let us know what's happening where you live by calling our hotline toll free at 1-888-812-9131. 

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