About Us

our Mission

DreamYard is an arts and social justice organization dedicated to working with Bronx youth, families, and schools to build pathways toward equity and opportunity through the arts. DreamYard provides nationally recognized, transformative arts education to Bronx youth and young adults, and supports them as they work toward higher learning, creative-filled careers, and social action.


Vibrant communities are sustained and retained by the people who call that community home. This vision is intergenerational and equitable for all people. We utilize the humanitarian power of arts and culture to build thriving and just communities in the Bronx and beyond.

We aspire for everyone—our staff, board, parents, youth, teaching artists, school partners, alumni, and neighbors—to have the power, agency, and tools to fortify themselves and the communities they love.

We are committed to nurturing artists, communities, and dreamers to change the world.


Founded in 1994, DreamYard set out to transform the educational and career readiness systems and mindsets that have historically excluded low-income populations of color. 22 years ago DY chose to work exclusively in The Bronx because of community needs and the belief that DY could deliver the greatest impact if it focused its work on one community. Over time, DY has invested deeply in the borough, developing a learning pathway for young people in K-12th grade. Since 2000, DY has worked with a total of 125 NYC schools and over 200,000 students and collaborated with the NYC Dept of Education and multiple stakeholders ranging from public officials to community groups, corporations, and foundations

In 2006 DY opened the DY Preparatory High School in partnership with New Visions and the Gates Foundation

In 2007 DreamYard launched the Bronx Arts Learning Community (BALC) consisting of 50 Bronx public school partners.

In 2009 DY built a Community Center alongside the Borough President, the Annenberg and MacArthur Foundations, that serves thousands of students annually.

In 2012, DreamYard was named a top program in the country by First Lady Michelle Obama.

In 2017 Here-to-Here (H2H) was founded in partnership with DreamYard, Big Picture Learning, and the James and Judith K. Dimon Foundation specifically to address the gap that exists in connecting in-school youth to employment.

In 2018, 10 of DreamYar’s Bronx International Poetry students visited their fellow poets in the Philippines, Korea & Okinawa, Japan.

In 2019, DreamYard opened its second Community Art Center, BX Start, dedicated to launching the creative careers of our students and community members, particularly in design and entrepreneurship.

In 2020 at the start of covid, DreamYard Board Member Derrik Lewis and brother Desmon with the support of DreamYard and the Dimon Foundation launched the Bronx Community Relief Effort responsible for raising and distributing $15,000,000 throughout the Bronx.

Today, DreamYard works to bridge students, educators, and employers to develop engagements that benefit individual students and businesses to create the conditions for more opportunities in the borough.

Our Programs

Our programs nurture young people’s desire to create change and cultivate the skills necessary to reach positive goals. By committing to social justice pedagogy along an educational pathway, we support young people as they work toward higher learning, meaningful careers, and social action. We have every expectation that through offering a thoughtful and continuous set of support, our youth will develop the tools necessary to become creative and engaged citizens, life-long learners as well as leaders and innovators of the 21st Century.

  • In-School Programs – 200 in-school art residencies across 40+ public schools throughout the Bronx serving more than 6,000 students annually.
  • After-School Programs – High-quality arts instruction, community art initiatives, leadership development as well as academic and social-emotional supports offered after school, on weekends, and throughout the Summer to over 2,000 K-12th graders.
  • DreamYard Preparatory High School – Offers a rigorous college preparatory curriculum that includes AP classes, SAT prep, art majors, and options for international travel. DYP’s graduation rate is currently over 90% and is ranked in the top 5 best graduation rates in our Superintendency.
  • Creative Career Pathways – Mentorship, Internships, college & career readiness training, and entrepreneurial classes that branch out of the work our young artists are doing in their in-school and after-school DreamYard classes.
  • Professional Development – a network of Educators, School Admin, & Teaching Artists across The Bronx that participates in an array of artistic, educational, social justice, and racial equity skill-building activities that enhance the work they do within our schools.

Our Bronx Community

The Bronx is more than a place we call home, it is a rich cultural asset that we pull from for inspiration as we learn and create. At DY we revoke the notion that art and culture need to be brought to our community. DY understands that there is a rich history of art, culture, and communal practices of care that have existed long before we arrived. Our role as a community organization is to nurture those practices, fight for their survival, and to elevate their presence so that our community is seen, respected, and valued for the contributions it offers. Art is sustenance for our community. It helps us care for one another and heal from past pains. By investing in the art forms of our community, we are investing in the community itself.

This investment is so important because the Bronx is home to the poorest congressional district in the country. Here, our community faces a number of struggles including the highest rates of poverty (63% of children), asthma (20% of children), unemployment (17.8% of adults), food-insecure individuals (100,000 a year), and lack of access to the internet (48%). Over the years, DY students have used their art to address mental health, hunger, violence, pollution, and discrimination through thoughtful art projects designed to mobilize community members, representatives, and stakeholders to create change. Supporting our students is a team of Teaching Artists (TAs) and Admin that represent our community and backgrounds.

Our Commitment to Anti-Racism

At DreamYard, we commit to being an anti-racist organization. We lead with race because we operate in a country founded on the genocide of Indigenous people, the enslavement of African people, and the oppression of countless others. We acknowledge the role this history plays in perpetuating inequity and dominant white culture within our community.

We are intentionally building a path toward racial equity by:

  • Challenging oppression and its intersections
  • Using art and education as a platform to offer a hopeful vision of the future
  • Identifying and uplifting the power and cultural assets that exist within our community
  • Encouraging the principles of justice, unity, equity, creativity, and joy
  • Transforming policies, procedures, practices, and programs
  • Understanding our staff, community members and partners are at different levels on the anti-racist continuum and embracing that we all have a place in this work

We invite you to join us on this journey.
External Resources: Undoing Racism, Race Forward, Border Crossers, Restorative Justice, Anti-Racist Continuum.