American Dream Program

Breaking Down Barriers and Unlocking Hope

The American Dream Program (ADP), founded in 1997, is a research-based approach to improving educational and life outcomes for children and youth in foster care. The ADP model combines mentorship, connection to a caring adult, educational advocacy, and trauma-informed educational support services for youth in foster care from middle school through college. The positive impact of this model on the educational outcomes of youth in foster care is evident through improved high school graduation, college enrollment, and college persistence and college graduation rates.

Our coaches stick with these young people after they transition out of foster care (at 21) and continue to provide one on one support services around academics, employment and career counseling, skill building, accessing and maintaining housing and emotional support through the age of 26. Coaches are trained in Motivational Interviewing and trauma-informed care, which allows them to build a trusting relationship with young people, meet youth where they are, and tap into their intrinsic motivation to collaboratively set goals and develop plans

In 2023 100% of 5th grade youth that are coached in ADP graduated. 

In 2023 65% of high school youth coached in ADP graduated from high school.

In 2023 81% of our College Seniors  that are coached in ADP graduated from College.  

How Corporations Can Advance This Work

Youth in foster care and beyond foster care need this support. The ADP coaching model is a lifeline for our young people and it’s critical that this work continue and be expanded. We are hoping to secure private dollars to expand this life-changing model to other populations, including youth we serve in NYCHA community center and those who are at risk of entering foster care. Additionally, as more and more of our students are graduating from college and graduate programs, only 5% receive employment opportunities upon graduation. Studies show that internships are the ultimate springboard for college students – but only 9% of our students are participating in internships during and after their college career. In order to change the trajectory of our young people, and allow them the opportunity to own their futures, we are seeking corporate partners to open doors generally closed to youth in foster care through our Workforce Immersion Program. Through career exposure, training and immersion, not only will our young people have a shot at upward mobility, but our partners will have the opportunity to create and develop a diverse talent pipeline.

To learn more, please contact Shanon Shaw at

2022 Youth of the Year,
Raveena Budhram

"The trauma I experienced forces you to grow up. One day you’re an innocent child, the next day everything is different. Luckily my trauma—and that school day in particular— was an eye opener for me. It snapped me out of trajectory. It made me mature. And it allowed me to choose a radically different path."

Read Raveena's Speech in Full.