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Dear CORE Champion, 
On this day last year we carried out what has long been a tradition for our organization, a day of service dedicated to honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Our entire team gathered with all of our Scholars at Kianga Isoke Palacio Park to plant twenty trees that could beautifully represent our commitment to community and be enjoyed by all those who visited. While we are unable to host such a gathering this year, we are happy to report that our trees are healthy and growing strong (much like the Scholars who planted them). Dr. King once said “even if I knew tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” Much in our lives and routines seems uncertain or disrupted right now, but sometimes it’s easiest to be mindful of our progress by simply reflecting on a year of steady growth as represented by a tree.

The “I Have a Dream” foundation was founded in 1981 by philanthropist Eugene Lang, an entrepreneur who had been present for Dr. King’s speech at the “March on Washington” and became inspired to devote his life toward working for social justice and equity. After giving a speech at a New York area middle school, he became focused on the seriously deficient high school graduation rates among under-resourced communities of color.  Recognizing the achievement of a basic high school education and access to higher learning as a crucial pathway for young people to achieve their dreams, Lang created the “I Have a Dream” foundation as a long-term, after-school support program that gave students years of tutoring and academic support and then culminated with funding for their post-secondary education upon graduating from high school.
In 1994 Julie Murray and Kevin Stolworthy reached out to Lang about replicating the success of his program here in Las Vegas in order to serve the many students in need throughout the Clark County School District, where at the time the graduation rate for students of color was as low as 48%. Two years later they launched the first cohort of “dreamers” as a local affiliate network of the national program, based out of the Bud Weeks Plaza housing project located in Las Vegas’ historic westside.  By 2012 the program saw the graduation of their initial cohort of scholars, with 100% graduating from high school or achieving GED equivalency. However, Lindsay Harper saw this achievement as just the beginning; her focus had already shifted to improving upon the lessons learned in the first cohort and expanding the reach of the program to support all aspects of social-emotional growth and development through a new whole-child approach.
In 2012, with funding from Windsong Trust, Lindsay approached West Prep Academy and Principal Dr. Barton about adopting a cohort of new 6th grade students and working on-site as a part of the school community. With these changes and the new focus on not just academic support, but social-emotional needs, family engagement, and character education Lindsay’s program was growing away from the structure of the national “I Have a Dream”model and becoming something entirely new. By 2013 the framework for CORE had been established and a local organization uniquely designed to meet the needs of Clark County students was born. Today, while we reflect upon the legacy of Dr. King we also find ourselves reflecting on our journey as an organization and the way in which our mission and very existence is fundamentally linked to his words.  Lindsay Harper says that “it’s not just the national “I Have a Dream” organization or work of Eugene Lang, but specifically the words and philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that has pushed me forward in my mission.”  Dr. Martin Luther King’s message of service toward community, perseverance in the face of adversity, and the pursuit of the dreams that define us, continue to be at the core of our organization.

We are excited to share our enhanced, virtual programming. Scholars are now able to select from a series of workshops featuring hands-on activities designed to increase engagement while building confidence and autonomy in decision-making. 

The new format is spearheaded by our Scholar Advisor, Ana Avalos-Garcia. “As high schoolers, they’re becoming these young adults that want control of their own lives. Now that they’re older and experiencing a pandemic, they realize their time is precious. The idea is getting them hands-on and giving them the autonomy to choose where they dedicate that time”

Each 6-week workshop embeds CORE’s hallmark character education and mindfulness curriculum to instill key traits such as Grit, Curiosity, Kindness, Purpose, and Emotional Intelligence. Our new program offerings include Becoming Plant Parents, Let’s Cook, and Story and Fiction in Film delivered through our cyber classroom and will last the duration of the Spring 2021 semester.

As we reflect upon the legacy of Dr. King, let us remember his call to play an active role in community building. We are thankful for your role in our community.
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