Changing Lives / “I Have A Dream” Program

Since 1990, Immanuel Presbyterian Church has built strong bonds between members of our congregation and families in and around Anacostia in Washington, DC, through the “I Have a Dream” program. The driving idea of the program is a covenant we strike with teenage “Dreamers”: If you complete high school, we will help pay for post-secondary schooling or job-training.

At the same time, the program involves much more. Immanuel members and Dreamers participate in weekly tutoring, enrichment, and just plain fun activities that have created deep, loving connections between our two communities.

We run this program through a church committee called the Changing Lives Committee. We gave it that name because it expresses a hope and a reality. We hope we are offering opportunities that can change the lives of Dreamers. We know the great reality that our frequent interactions with Dreamers have changed our lives.


Important milestones in the program:

  • Established in 1990 when church members expressed interest in creating a major mission activity “beyond ourselves” at the same time Immanuel was building a new classroom and meeting facility.
  • Began our first class of 60 “Dreamers” who were just graduating from 6th grade in 1990. Today, more than half have received Immanuel’s help in gaining post-high school education – and more.
  • Began our second Dreamer group in 2003 involving more than 40 Dreamers, about half of whom have graduated from high school, and some 14 are in college or have graduated. The rest are in high school and moving toward graduation and college.

Other Special Activities

In addition to tutoring and financial support, Immanuel remains actively involved with the Dreamers by sponsoring activities such as:

  • An annual Christmas gathering at which Dreamers make gifts for others and their families and bake holiday treats.
  • Opportunities to participate in the Experiment in International Living for touring and home stays with families abroad.
  • Opportunities to attend summer camp in New Hampshire and Michigan (over 20 Dreamers have attended).
  • Participation in local outings and the DC Summer Youth Employment program at the Florida Avenue Baptist Church.

How to Help

If this ministry appeals to you and you would like to participate, please let us know by contacting Lee Rainie or the church office. We will find an appropriate way for you to connect to these wonderful children and their families.

Please watch the church bulletin and web site for our occasional activities with Dreamers at Immanuel and pitch in with kitchen help and activities participation.

If you have starter jobs or internships available at your workplace, the Dreamers would be quite eager to hear about them.

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