The Need for ESF Dream Camp Foundation

Breaking the cycle of generational poverty

Philadelphia skyline

Philadelphia is not an easy city to grow up in – we are the poorest large city in America, plagued with a drug epidemic and gun violence. For children experiencing poverty, this may mean facing food insecurity, unstable housing, and poorly performing schools. This crisis, which persists across generations, disproportionately impacts the communities in which most of our students live. It's a terrible cycle: only 16% of children born into poverty are expected not to be in poverty by their late 20s (source: Philadelphia Poverty Action Fund).

Dream Camp strives to break that cycle with high-quality out-of-school time (OST) programs, offered free of charge. To qualify, students must live at or below the poverty line and receive free or reduced-price lunch. Our program is intentionally small, providing deep, long-term, personal support to about 150 students and their families. The need for our program is clear when we consider our students’ living situations:

  • 60% live with a single parent.
  • more than 70% live in a household in which no member has finished college.
  • 10% of our students are being raised by someone other than a biological parent.

Students from historically under-resourced communities need institutions that are designed to support them with structure, consistency, and engagement. ESF Dream Camp Foundation provides this, with meaningful, year-round, long-term mentoring and out-of-school time enrichment for children in grades 1-12. With your help, we can nurture our students’ potential and empower them to become future leaders and positive contributors to our communities.