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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s after school math prep time for some 50 students at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in Northeast Miami Dade.

They are all part of the “I Have a Dream Foundation,” an organization that empowers children in low-income communities to reach their potential by providing a long term program of mentoring, tutoring and tuition assistance for higher education.

Stephanie Trump is president and founder of the South Florida Foundation.  She is not related to President Donald Trump.

“We look for a school where at least 75 percent of children are on free lunch program because then we know we are in right socio-economic group. We promise the children and their parents that we will give them, after school summer prep, and we do training for parents if we can help them. As they get older we do SAT prep,   we provide just everything we can,” she said.

Jonas Severe is an IHAD program coordinator. He’s more than a teacher and the program is more than academics.

“We take a holistic approach when we deal with these young people. So one of the many roles we do is mentorship but that’s not our only role. Sometimes I play the father role or uncle of life coach or therapist so whatever needs the kids may have.

“Many times, we’re in homes with them celebrating birthdays and it continues into everything. On paper, it looks like a 9am-5pm job, but we’re on call all day every day. When the kids call us, we drop everything we’re doing and we’re there,” Jonas explained.

The students start the program very young, most before 2nd grade.

Darvin Belizaire is a junior now, he’s been in the program since kindergarten. Mr. Jonas is his mentor.

“He just told me don’t give up. No matter how bad I’m doing, he comes and he tells me ok, we got to work on this.  Then, when I’m doing something good or great he tells me I’m proud of you. He’s had an important impact on my life,” Darvin said.

Mr. Jonas says watching kids like Darvin come into their own is what makes this job so special.

“I think by the time he got to 8th grade the light turned on for him and he got to take things more seriously. The part that is especially good at IHAD is we expose kids to many different aspects of life and to encourage them to do well,” he said.

And Darvin said it’ Mr. Jonas’ time outside the classroom that makes a big difference too.

“Sometimes he comes over to our houses and talks to us. Sometimes he takes us on trips like canoeing and other fun stuff. It’s not all school work, it goes beyond education,” Darvin said.

Still, college flags fly high.

IHAD continues after high-school. It guarantees academic tuition at a Florida state university for a four-year degree or at an accredited trade school.  It’s all about the future.

It’s a rewarding field and we’re changing the world, healing one kid at a time.

On November 15 the I Have a Dream Foundation will have their annual gala where they expect to raise more than $600 thousand dollars.  For more info: www.dreammiami.org.

If you are a mentor and would like to share your story with us, please email us at mentoringmatters@cbs.com.

Click here for more Mentoring Matters.

Lisa Petrillo

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