#BeTheDream

#BeTheDream is an educational programme that was birthed when the founders, Laurian Nortje and Lusanda Gwayi were confronted with the realities of lack of access to quality education, high levels of unemployment and poverty faced by young people in under-resourced schools. Youth unemployment constitutes 73% of the total unemployment in South Africa. An overwhelming 85% of these unemployed youth tend to be less skilled and inexperienced, with no formal further or tertiary education, while two-thirds have never worked. BeTheDream is a nine-month programme which is designed to develop and enhance participants’ self-development skills; as well as provide points of connection through academic, entrepreneurial and employability interventions at schools. It bridges the gap between the point where young people stop believing in their dreams and the point where they begin to see and experience themselves as real agents of social and economic change.

CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

The #BeTheDream campaign aims to address the limited and poor participation of young people in the economy by shifting the perception of the ‘adult’ generation as to the ability and role young South African’s have in shaping the future of this country through their dreams and aspirations. The key objectives are:
- For youth to build their own solutions to the social and economic challenges that they face;
- Equipping the youth with the necessary tools to know how to achieve their dreams;
- To provide the youth with access to opportunities that will enable them to achieve their dreams; and
- To instil the value of “giving back” by creating opportunities for youth to positively impact and engage local communities through community action.

HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED

The School Roadshow: At the beginning of the year, the team visits its TEN (10) partnering schools during their assembly period to call for learners to join the #BeTheDream programme through writing dream letters.
#BeTheDream programme: The programme, which currently has 183 learners (beneficiaries), is joined by those learners who take initiative and write a dream letter to the Dream Factory Foundation after the roadshow. Beneficiaries attend training sessions, which through the Dream Tool Kit, cover modules such as visions, dreams and purpose, inter-personal skills, identity, community action and so on. Beneficiaries are also given access to academic, entrepreneurial and employability interventions to enable them to achieve their dreams, such as free tutoring sessions, bursaries; job-shadow, coding, volunteer and internship opportunities; career-guidance and entrepreneurial workshops, work experience placements; and assistance with stationery, school uniform and food packs.

CAMPAIGN INNOVATIONS

A 2009 study on South African graduates reveals that employers are reluctant to employ youth because there was a gap between their expectations and the work-readiness of graduates. Teachers are already inundated with too much work to address this challenge. #BeTheDream has therefore identified a niche in the market to address this gap. Our unique blend of initiatives makes it hard to liken or compare this campaign to any other similar endeavor currently in our communities.
The Dream Tool Kit, in particular, is a new and innovative curriculum, that we developed when we could not find a curriculum in South Africa that focused on training the youth on the creation, development and actualization of dreams.

CAMPAIGN IMPACT

We have reached and inspired over 55 000 young people in the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal through the School Roadshow. Over 1500 young people have been impacted through the #BeTheDream programme. Our beneficiaries have:
- increased in their confidence;
- become better informed of their career options;
- a long term plan;
- become work ready; and
- become employable: 85% of the beneficiaries who have joined our internship programme have either received full-time employment or gone on to further their studies at a university.

We have empowered 125 young people between the ages 8-17 years with coding skills. By gaining new skills in coding, our beneficiaries have gained access to digital jobs which are said to increase income by 40% to 200%.

Salt River High School confirmed that it has seen a significant increase in the results of those students attending the extra tutoring classes we provide. Seventy seven (77) beneficiaries were part of the tutoring programme in 2015 alone.

CHALLENGES FACED

This campaign requires large resources in order to ensure that it continues to operate. Even though we have secured multi-year funding, our funding only covers a certain part of the work that we need to do. For example, we use our personal vehicles to travel to all the schools. Our main challenge has therefore been access to limited resources when the community need is so great. As our community reputation grows, we continually receive requests to introduce our programme into more schools; however our capacity is limited due to budget constraints. We are continually being challenged to be innovative and maximize every donation and opportunity that we receive in order to achieve the most optimal results for the sake of our beneficiaries.

Another challenge has been retaining our staff members who are continuously looking for opportunities to earn more money.We therefore need to continuously come up with innovative ways to retain our current staff members without exceeding our budget.

LESSONS LEARNT

Be adaptive: Our greatest asset to date has been our ability to adapt, to be flexible and willing to receive correction and improve. We have taken great strides in a short space of time because of our teachable spirit and our willingness to learn. We desire to stay teachable and humble because it has truly worked out for the organization’s benefit especially when things did not work out the way we had planned.
Be resourceful: We have learnt to do and create the best with what we have particularly when funding proposals were not successful. We have achieved more by being good stewards of what we have and being grateful for every gift that we received.
One cannot succeed as an island: Calling people, creating networks and making collaborations has been our lifeline. It has been such a blessing to be able to call on colleagues within the NPO space for assistance. We have learnt that in our line of work, we have to collaborate and create networks in order to make an even greater impact.