Dream Outside the Box
Beginning this semester, look out for a new student organization – Dream Outside the Box – here at CC. Dream Outside the Box (DOTB) is a non-profit organization in Colorado Springs that works to propel at-risk youth onto a higher education trajectory by mobilizing college students to engage children in imaginative careers and extracurriculars. DOTB work with children in existing youth development organizations to provide:
- exposure to new activities and career options to broaden horizons beyond stereotypical career aspirations such as rap or football by inviting college student organizations to share their respective interests, such as chemistry & fencing
- long-term development opportunities via weekly lessons, camps, and apprenticeships through partnerships with private organizations
- opportunities for our youth to embrace service starting at age 5
Every Dream Outside the Box program is designed for dual impact: to propel youth in dream deserts toward higher education while cultivating leadership skills among collegiate volunteers. By producing imaginative programming in dream deserts, college students broaden the horizons of K-5 youth while developing skills to contribute toward the disruption of cyclical poverty.
CCE staff has recently talked to the initiator of the Dream Outside the Box club at CC, Turner Black. We would like to share in this blog what we have find out about the purpose and aspirations of DOTB at CC in the form of an interview.
Julia (CCE worker): Hi Turner! Thank you so much for cooperating with us and sharing this invaluable information about DOTB club that you have started. To begin, please tell us what inspired you to found DOTB at CC?
Turner: Hi Julia! Thank you for helping me promote this organization at CC. Turner: When I was signing up for clubs and applying to participate, I had trouble getting accepted to most of the programs, as they were all quite full. I also happen to simply love and believe in this program, and therefore I thought it would be a great idea to bring it to CC community. I decided to bring DOTB to CC because I know this community on campus can be a bubble sometimes, and I think it is important to be able to create meaningful connections with members of the community, especially when that can be done by reaching out to our youngest generation.
Julia: I have heard that the very first DOTB organization was founded in Columbia University. I was wondering if CC DOTB is going to be connected in any way to Columbia’s club?
Turner: We are not connected to Columbia’s DOTB group in any direct way. However, we are connected with a group that was founded at Missouri State University by a friend of mine when she was a freshman in college. She is now a successful adult who helps to run these programs all across the country.
Julia: This is awesome! I hope she will be able to help you promote your organization at CC. How do you think this club will impact CC students, culture, and atmosphere on campus?
Turner: I hope this club will allow even more students to get involved with youth in the community in fun, variable, and creative ways. Because our model requires a different student group or organization to get involved each week (as our “Dream Buddies”), a large number of students are able to be involved just a couple of times, when they are available, and are able to become exposed to volunteering with youth without a huge commitment. Along with that, we really strive to create and maintain a consistent group of volunteers (“Volunteer Buddies”) that are willing to make time every week to come and see their “Dreamers” (students) and to truly create a bond with one or two students so that the students have some consistency and something to look forward to each week that includes the same people.
Julia: And what do you think CC students can bring into the club, and how can they get involved?
Turner: CC students can bring energy, creativity, organizational skills, and management skills- all of those things would be helpful. However, the only true requirement for students to bring is a heart full of love ready to pour out to the kids each week. Getting involved is as easy as texting (817) 889-7303 or signing up for our organization on Summit! We will have an interest meeting in early next semester, and will also be at the winter activities fair. There is also an app called DOTB that anyone can download to sign up to volunteer, get more information, and watch adorable videos of previous students sharing their experiences and newfound dreams.
Julia: It looks like there are a lot of ways for CC students to connect to DOTB! Also, What events, if any, will the club organize? Do you have specific ideas/dates in mind?
Turner: I am not quite sure yet, although I do know we will have a fun interest meeting in the first block of next semester, and will weekly be going to a local school or YMCA (not 100% sure which one yet) to do exciting and meaningful activities with elementary school aged students.
Julia: Are there any groups on campus that might be similar to Dream Outside the Box? If yes, would you be able to cooperate with them and what would you do?
Turner: Yes, there are other groups on campus that work with students, and I would enjoy collaborating with them, especially if they are working with students in middle or high school. I believe that bringing in students of other ages to talk to the elementary schoolers and answer questions about higher education would be a really cool opportunity, especially because we need to inspire them to stay in school until graduation if we want to inspire them to pursue higher education, whatever that may look like. The only issue I foresee with collaborating with other groups is the transportation of students and volunteers, as our budget is somewhat limited in that respect at the moment.
Julia: Talking about the commitment level this club will require, what will be an approximate schedule of the meetings? How big of a commitment will it be for students who get involved?
Turner: We will meet once a week for the first three weeks of block, and then will likely take one week off for fourth week of each block. Each meeting will be located near campus, and transportation will be available for those without cars. Every session will take about an hour and a half total, as the session with students is officially one hour, but volunteers are expected to show up about half an hour early to go over the day’s activities and prepare the supplies – that way, everyone is on the same page when working with kids individually, and we will be able to have group discussions afterwards, as everyone performed the same tasks. Overall, this will not be a terribly time consuming commitment, and, at least for me, it always seems to be far more fun than stressful, as the students are so sweet and loving.
Julia: So I assume there will be opportunities for CC students to get off campus with the club?
Turner: Definitely! We will have weekly sessions at another location off campus, so there will be lots of reasons for students to get off campus.
Julia: What do you feel are the biggest issues/problems facing the club, if any?
Turner: At this point, the main issue I foresee is not being able to recruit enough committed people that will want to come each week, as there are already many clubs on campus. However, I have hope for this club, as I truly believe that once people try it out, they will fall in love with it!
Julia: I hope that many of CC students will be very interested in signing up for DOTB, since even though there are a lot of clubs at CC, there are none similar to DOTB in its purpose. FInally, where do you envision the club to be in five years?
Turner: In five years, I envision the club still in action, with a well-rehearsed curriculum and a stable group of committed students leading it. I hope at this point, we will be able to reach out to our previous students and see how they have come in school, and possibly bring them back into our wing of support and involve them in giving back to their community by doing service through the DOTB programming and mentoring other students to continue pursuing their biggest dreams.
Julia: Thank you so much for such thorough responses! I am very excited to see your passion and see what great things DOTB will do in the future!
Turner: Thank you! DOTB will try its best to live up to our expectations and hopes.
Content and interview by Julia Bazavluk