East Harlem’s Dreams Of Attending College Come True As Rochester Institute of Technology

June 28, 2022

Nine graduates from East Harlem’s DREAM Charter High School will attend the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) starting next year as part of a unique cohort model established in partnership by DREAM and RIT.

Backed by substantial scholarship funding and enhanced by robust post-secondary programming and support, the partnership is seen as a potential model for DREAM’s future college persistence initiatives.

All from New York City, the DREAM Charter High School graduates who have accepted offers to attend RIT include Deon Jeffrey, Emanuel Binett, Jaden Bright, Kelvin Arredondo, Mamadou Ndiaye, Nasir West, Zakaria Sakhi, Abdul Tariq Macauley and Victor Sanchez.

“DREAM feels so lucky that we get to be a part of these young people’s lives,” said DREAM co-Chief Executive Officer Eve Colavito at a luncheon celebrating the launch of the cohort on June 23 in East Harlem. “They have worked hard for what they have achieved, with perseverance and determination.”

The initial idea for the RIT cohort model was established by Don Truesdale, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ardea Partners, who is also a member of DREAM’s Board of Directors and past Chairman of the RIT Board of Trustees.

While Truesdale and RIT were initially planning to admit two students from DREAM as part of the pilot program, RIT Vice President of Enrollment Ian Mortimer was so impressed with all the students interested that he advocated admitting them all.

“When I walked in the door there was something different about DREAM; there was something about the cultural reality of the school that felt very different,” he said at the June 23 luncheon. “I’ve never been in a room with high school students who had such dignity and respect for the process. They asked really probing questions and I was completely blown away.”

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The increased number of students expanded the role DREAM would play in the partnership, enlisting resources from the organization’s long-established post-secondary support programming.

Between Truesdale, RIT, and DREAM, a plan was created to not only provide full funding for each of the nine students to attend RIT, but to also provide them with the academic, social, and personal support they would need to ensure college completion.

This includes a summer bridge program, a specialized curriculum, dedicated advisors from both RIT and DREAM, and more.

“To be able to help nine young men get a really cool opportunity in an environment where you can feel the love and support from DREAM and from RIT was an outcome I couldn’t have imagined,” said Truesdale.

RIT has again been recognized as one of the best national universities by U.S. News & World Report, which also cited the university as among the most innovative, with strong undergraduate research opportunities and a highly regarded cooperative learning program.

This focus on securing employment for students right out of school was also important for DREAM, since it aligns with the organization’s work to level the field for all kids and help them realize their vision of success.

“Don and RIT’s actions exemplify one of DREAM’s maxims, which is ‘teamwork makes the dream work,” said Colavito. “RIT is the first official college partner of DREAM Charter Schools, and we hope and believe this will be a model.”


Originally founded as Harlem RBI, DREAM traces its beginnings to 1991, when a group of volunteers transformed an abandoned, garbage-strewn lot into two baseball diamonds for the youth of East Harlem.

Thirty years later, the organization serves thousands of children across East Harlem and the South Bronx through a network of free, extended-day, extended-year DREAM Charter Schools and community sports-based youth development programs.

By developing a whole child model that is responsive to the unique academic and social needs of every child, DREAM is creating a future where all children are equipped to fulfill their vision of success.

For more information on DREAM and its mission, visit www.wearedream.org.

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