DreamYard collaborates with Bronx youth, families and schools to build pathways to equity and opportunity through the arts.
DreamYard programs develop artistic voice, nurture young peoples’ desire to make change and cultivate the skills necessary to reach positive goals. We believe that young people in the Bronx need a continuous set of supports to help them towards positive outcomes as they navigate their educational pathway. We have every expectation that through offering sustained and meaningful supports our youth will develop the necessary tools to become creative and engaged citizens, life-long learners and the leaders and innovators of the 21st century.
Established in 1994, DreamYard started as an idea sparked by a group of young people who wrote a play about a place where children could go to dream. In 1999, DreamYard chose to work entirely in the Bronx because of the generational need and the belief that the organization could most effectively impact change with limited resources if we focused our work in one community.
Since then, DreamYard has grown to not only become the largest arts provider in the Bronx but a nationally recognized community arts organization that uses the arts, digital tools, and social justice to transform students, schools, and communities.
DreamYard has invested deeply in the Borough, developing an arts learning pathway for young people in preK-12th grade called the Bronx Arts Learning Community, a one-of-a kind network of 45 partnering public schools developed in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education and the Ford Foundation. In 2006 we opened the DreamYard Preparatory High School and in 2009, in collaboration with BronxPro Real Estate (a unique, mission-driven affordable housing developer), developed a multi-arts and digitally integrated Community Art Center that serves over 300 students weekly. In 2012 we began to expand beyond the walls of the classroom, leading community development and beautification projects across the Bronx including the Gaudi-inspired Hayden Lord Park.
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.
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 of educators, artists, dreamers, young people and life-long learners
Encouraging the principles of justice, unity, equity, creativity, and joy
Transforming policies, procedures, practices, and programs (for example: striving for transparency and equity in pay and compensation structures regardless of race, culture, gender, ethnicity, creed, etc)
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.
DreamYard lives and thrives in the Bronx. Though it has been in a constant state of transition and development for the last few decades, the Bronx continues to evolve as a wellspring of cultural diversity, creativity and resilient communities. The demographics of our participants span the globe and as such, our programs reflect the necessity for empowering those who join us to celebrate their culture and where they’re from while creating instances of community.
The DreamYard Art Center is located in the economically poorest Congressional district in the country. Here, in New York’s Community District 3, 63% of children are born into poverty, fewer than half of school-age children meet City and State learning standards, and less than 10% of adults have a college degree. With 42% of residents living in this area under the age of 18, residents and community advocates have identified after-school and arts programming as priorities for ensuring positive community development.
We partner with a variety of Bronx-based cultural and social service organizations including The Bronx Museum, Knowledge House, Lehman College, The Point, Per Scholas, Sustainable South Bronx, The New Settlement College Access Center, BronxPro Real Estate and WHEDCo. Through these collaborations, DreamYard has become recognized as a cultural force in the community.