Dream Builders program is designed to serve at‐risk youth ages 13‐16 – Poverty and dropouts are inextricably connected in the three primary settings affecting healthy child and adolescent development: families, schools, and communities. Based on this fact, Dream Builders has identified several criteria that can result in at‐risk youth having high absenteeism from school, high dropout rate, lack of positive influences, drug addiction, and participation in other illegal activities. To ensure this program is utilized to impact those who are in most need of the opportunities provided, each youth member must meet 2 of the 5 following criteria:

Currently attend Saint Louis City School

According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education,  Missouri’s graduation rate is 85 percent. St. Louis City Schools have a  combined graduation rate of 45.9 percent.

Live in low‐income household

  • In 2016, poor (bottom 20 percent of all family incomes) students were five times more likely to drop out of high school than high‐income (top 20  percent of all family incomes) students.
  • Family poverty is associated with a number of adverse conditions — high mobility and homelessness; hunger and food insecurity; parents who are in jail or absent; domestic violence; drug abuse and other problems — known as  “toxic stressors” because they are severe, sustained and not buffered by supportive relationships.  Toxic stress in early childhood leads to lasting impacts on learning (linguistic, cognitive and social‐emotional skills), behavior and health. These impacts are likely manifested in some of the precursors to dropping out, including low achievement, chronic absenteeism, and  misbehavior, as well as a host of strategies, attitudes, and behaviors —  sometimes referred to as “noncognitive” skills — linked to school success.

Live in low‐income community

Some neighborhoods, particularly those with high concentrations of poverty,  are communities of a concentrated disadvantage with extremely high levels of joblessness, family instability, poor health, substance abuse, welfare dependency and crime.  Disadvantaged communities influence child and adolescent development through the lack of resources (playgrounds and parks, after‐school programs) or negative peer influences.  For instance,  students living in poor communities are more likely to have dropouts as friends, which increase the likelihood of dropping out of school.

Live in single‐family household

  • Children who grow up with only one of their biological parents (nearly always the mother) are disadvantaged across a broad array of outcomes. They are twice as likely to drop out of high school, 2.5 times as likely to become teen mothers, and 1.4 times as likely to be idle ‐‐ out of school and out of work as children who grow up with both parents. Children in one‐parent families also have lower grade point averages, lower college aspirations, and poorer attendance records.
  • Family disruption also reduces the time parents spend with children and the control they have over them. When parents live apart, children see their fathers a lot less. About 29 percent do not see them at all. Another 35  percent see them only on a weekly basis. Mothers often find their authority undermined by the separation and consequently have more difficulty controlling their children. One survey asked high school students whether their parents helped them with their school work and supervised their social activities. Students whose parents separated between the sophomore and senior years reported a loss of involvement and supervision compared to students whose parents stayed together.

Aspiring to be first generation college student

  • Nearly one‐third of students entering two‐ or four‐year colleges in the United  States each year are first‐generation. These students are also more likely to be minorities, and they are far less likely to graduate: In six years, 40 percent of first‐generation students will have earned a bachelor’s or associate’s  degree or a certificate, vs. 55 percent of their peers whose parents attended college.
  • College enrollment rates vary considerably with parents’ educational attainment.  82 percent of students whose parents held a bachelor’s degree or higher enrolled in college immediately after finishing high school. The rates were much lower for those whose parents had completed high school but not college (54 percent) and even lower for those whose parents had less than a  high school diploma (36 percent).


Dream Builders program is designed to spark development in low‐income/highly distressed communities – Real estate developers are not attracted to investing in low‐ income/highly distressed communities without subsidies due to low home values, costs of rehab or construction, vacant and blighted neighboring properties, high crime rates, and lack of community support; these investments are perceived as low profit with high risk. In the City of Saint Louis, specifically north city, there has been a lack of real estate/community development due to the aforementioned factors. In an effort to spark development in North City (Dream Builders targeted community for development), Dream Builders plan to address the following issues this community is experiencing:

Lack of home ownership

  • Most occupied homes in North city are inhabited by tenants and not homeowners. 56% of residents in the North city zip code of 63113 are renters compared to the state average of 33%.
  • In 63113 north city zip code, 37% of properties are classified as vacant,  compared to 12% in the State of Missouri and 10% in Metro Area.
  • Lowered home values often socially equate to people of these communities wrongly being seen as having no value themselves.
  • Lack of home ownership creates community disconnect. When there is no ownership, there is less commitment to stay in the community when  (career) opportunities are presented in other areas of the region.

Low property values

The median home value in Missouri is $138,000 (approx. $42,000 in 63113 zip code). Missouri home values have gone up 6.2% (approx. down 12.2% in  63113 zip code).

Limited access to peers with higher education

  • In the north city zip code of 63107, only 73.7% of the residents have a  high school diploma and only 13.4% have a bachelor’s degree.
  • In north city zip code of 63113, only 79.1% of the residents have a high school diploma and only 10.6% have a bachelor’s degree.

Lack of community pride

Community pride is characterized by a feeling of emotional connection to a  place and its residents. A sense of community is anchored by a culture of good will that cuts across political or cultural differences and even embraces them. Due to the combination of low home values, lack of ownership, vacant buildings, and perception of community members having minimal community pride. Without community pride, one lacks investment in the betterment of the area.