Feb. 14, 2020
CWU Receives $255,000 Grant for Dare to Dream Program
A CWU program aimed at encouraging migrant youths to pursue opportunities in higher education recently received more than $255,000 in grant funding from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
For the past eight years, the annual Dare to Dream conference — a partnership between OSPI, which houses the federal Migrant Education Program, and CWU’s College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) — has been held on the CWU campus for seven days in June.
This year will be the ninth installment of the program, which is available to 150 Priority For Service (PFS) students, meaning they receive free or reduced lunches, live outside of the area, or are forced to change school districts due to seasonal work commitments. Dare to Dream participants come from as many as 15 different school districts and are often credit deficient because they have to move in and out of district.
The $255,688 grant from OSPI pays for staffing, room and board, and support services during the conference. CWU’s CAMP staff, led by director Miriam Bocchetti and program coordinator Justina Aguilera, puts on the week’s activities, relying on assistance from temporary employees.
“This program requires a tremendous amount of time and effort from our staff,” Bocchetti said. “But the outcome is we’re able to help migrant kids think more about their futures. Many of them have never even thought about going to college, thus this program has proven to be very beneficial.”
Bocchetti said a number of former Dare to Dream attendees have gone on to become students at CWU, although a desire to attend college isn’t a requirement for participation. The main objective of the program is to show kids from underrepresented populations which opportunities are available to them after high school.
“The ideal scenario would be for a student to attend Dare to Dream and then go to college with a CAMP program,” she said. “But that’s not always the case. Our main goal is to show them what options are available to them in life.”
Students who stay for the entire seven days are issued a half credit in one of two academic tracks: either for an elective or for science. Freshmen and sophomores participate in the “Hero’s Journey” curriculum, providing them with a positive approach to overcoming obstacles in life, while juniors and seniors are placed in the science track, where they engage in an average of 77 hours’ worth of science-related activities.
All of the students participate in daily journal writing exercises and listen to presentations by higher education professionals.
The Hero’s Journey refers to a broad category of tales and lore, popularized by philosopher Joseph Campbell, that involve a mythological hero who embarks on an adventure, overcomes a life crisis, and then returns home a changed person.
“They learn that they are the hero in their own journey,” Bocchetti said.
CAMP is beginning to look for 15 mentors for this summer’s Dare to Dream program. Many of the mentors are CWU students, but affiliation with the university is not required. However, applicants must be able to speak English and Spanish, and be able to lead a group of eight to 10 students for an entire week.
The experience is often just as rewarding for the mentors as it is for the program participants.
“For many students, this is their first time seeing a college campus or a university, and that opens their minds to achieve higher goals,” said former mentor Eunice Perez. “They’re exposed to many opportunities and they leave with a mindset that they can purse whatever they want to be.”
Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1518, David.Leder@cwu.edu.