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. DreamYard provides nationally recognized, transformative arts and social justice education programming to Bronx youth and young adults in schools, after school and during the summer months, and supports them as they work toward higher learning, creative-filled careers, and social action.


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 utilize the humanitarian power of arts and social justice education to build thriving and just communities in the Bronx and beyond. We are committed to nurturing artists, communities, and dreamers to change the world.


Founded in 1994, DreamYard (DY) set out to transform the educational and career readiness systems and mindsets that have historically excluded low-income populations of color. 30 years ago, DY chose to work exclusively in The Bronx because of community assets and 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 grades through their first year of post-secondary education. Since 2000, DY has worked with a total of 125 NYC schools, and over 200,000 students in collaboration with the New York City Department 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 2016, DreamYard began embedding a career exploration curriculum into our Art Center programs.

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, Dreamyard’s Bronx International Poetry Program was born, now called IPEP, which is a collaboration between students in the Bronx, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, and Australia. This year, 10 of DreamYard’s IPEP 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 addition, this year DreamYard was awarded a Summer Youth Employment Program and Work Learn Grow contract from the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development to provide paid internships to over 200 students

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.

In 2022, DreamYard was awarded an NYC contract that will allow it to provide Professional Development opportunities to public school teachers and principals.

In 2023, DreamYard opened BX Start Gaming and Entrepreneurship Center, a digital career readiness center in 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.

DreamYard offers the following SIX programs:

  • In-School Programs – 200 in-school art residencies across 40+ public schools throughout the Bronx serving more than 6,000 students annually.
  • Art Center Programs (ACP) – 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 400 6th-12th graders in our flagship community center, the DY Art Center.
  • BX Start Gaming and Entrepreneurship Center (BX Start) – BX Start is DY’s second community center and moved to its new, permanent location, a 10-minute walk from the DY Art Center, in August 2023. BX Start seeks to provide a space where the power of video games and digital media can be used to promote economic opportunity, community building, and forward the cause of social justice for residents of the Bronx.
  • DreamYard Preparatory High School (DYP) – With a mission to cultivate Scholarship, Artistry, and Character within its students, DreamYard Prep provides a rigorous arts-integrated curriculum that emphasizes problem-solving and critical thinking while deepening students’ understanding of all subject areas.
  • Creative Career Pathways (CCP) – Led by our Legacy and Internship Department (LIP), CCP provides mentorship, Internships, college & and career readiness training, and entrepreneurial classes that connect to the work our young artists are doing in their in-school and after-school DreamYard classes. Creative Career Pathways reinvests over $730,000 annually into summer internships and stipends for Bronx youth ages 14-19.
  • Professional Development (PD) – a network of Educators, School Admin, and Teaching Artists across The Bronx that participate in an array of artistic, educational, and social justice skill-building activities that enhance the work they do within our schools and community centers.

Our Bronx Community

The Bronx is more than a place we call home. It is a rich cultural asset that inspires us as we learn and create.  The Bronx has a rich immigration history, with more than half of its population made up of Hispanic immigrants. Historically, the Bronx has been home to first and second waves of immigration with immigrants in the South Bronx arriving from Latin America, Asia, and Africa. At DreamYard we revoke the notion that art and culture need to be brought to our community. Some arts organizations come to the Bronx hoping to bring arts and culture to students” which usually take the shape and form of European aesthetics and discipline. DreamYard understands that there is a rich history of art, culture, and communal practices of care that have existed long before we arrived. 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. In 2020, the Bronx had more families entering homeless shelters than any other borough in New York City and had the highest rate of foster care placements in New York City. As of 2020, the South Bronx had more children born into poverty than any other neighborhood in New York. According to the Citizens Committee for Children of New York (CCC), more than a quarter (28%) of all families in the South Bronx are led by single mothers. Despite recent gains in high school graduation rates, New York’s talent development pipeline leaks at every stage. The result is that for every 100 students who enter 9th grade, only 25 finish college within 10 years. NYC teens and young adults are employed at lower rates than their peers in almost any large city in America. Only 55% of recent NYC college enrollees attain a degree within six years. For NYC community college enrollees, only 23% attain AA degrees, and only 11% attain BA or BA-equivalent degrees. Overall, 68% of students who enrolled in a public college in NYC receive no degree, leaving many students with loan debt and few inroads to annual salaries above $40,000. DreamYard hopes to disrupt the systemic challenges that have plagued the Bronx by providing pathways to equity and opportunity.

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.