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(Photos courtesy of Imagine Photography)

The U.S. Dream Academy, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that inspires and invests in the lives of children of incarcerated parents, received a surprise donation of $2.5 Million from Oprah Winfrey, which she announced via video message to guests at the annual “Power of A Dream” celebration in honor of the charity’s 25th Anniversary. The Gala took place on Monday, October 2nd at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, presented by Amway.

“Education is one of the forces that helped me be who I am in the world today. I’m a believer in helping children be the best that they can be, as this Academy has done for a quarter of a century,” said Oprah Winfrey in the surprise video message. “As you celebrate this blessed 25th anniversary, I want to honor the vital work that you do to lift children up and show them what is possible. I am humbled to continue to support the U.S. Dream Academy and will donate $2.5 Million to your efforts and your mission.”

In celebrating its 25th year, the U.S. Dream Academy set a fundraising goal of $1 million for the 400 attending guests and honorees. With Oprah’s very generous donation, this year’s Gala raised $3.5 million dollars to continue its programs and outreach to empower children (DreamKids) impacted by parental incarceration or those needing additional support in school.

“The U.S. Dream Academy is so blessed to consider Oprah Winfrey as our biggest champion and supporter over the course of these 25 years,” says Dr. Wintley Phipps, U.S. Dream Academy Founder and CEO. “Words cannot express our deep gratitude to Oprah as we celebrate our 25th anniversary. This donation will be life-changing to so many more kids who will benefit from our afterschool and mentoring programs. We are grateful to Orpah, our corporate sponsors and the many individual donors who helped us exceed our goal!

Oprah Winfrey has a two-decade history of supporting the U.S. Dream Academy. In addition to this year’s very generous donation of $2.5 million to commemorate its 25th anniversary, Oprah has made substantial donations through the years, totaling over $10 million dollars.

The 25th anniversary gala had other evening highlights and special guest speakers such as:

  • Alumni Keynote Speaker: Withney Simons, U.S. Dream Academy Alum, Entrepreneur and Head Image Consultant at Connaisseur Paris
  • Entertainment: Jennifer Holliday, GRAMMY and TONY Award winning Broadway Actress, Recording Artist and Gospel Singer
  • Special video message from Maryland Governor Wes Moore, a longtime supporter of US Dream Academy

Special Performances & Appearances: Wintley Phipps, GRAMMY nominated Gospel Singer, and Founder and CEO of U.S. Dream Academy with a special collaboration by award winning Takoma Academy Chorale and DC DreamKids.

Mentor of The Year Award (sponsored by QTS): DANIEL GUERRERO

Daniel Guerrero, a mentor at U.S. Dream Academy Learning Center in Salt Lake City, was named the 2023 Mentor of The Year. Daniel has been in the mentorship program since March of 2022. Growing up, Daniel lived in a single parent household with three other siblings. Looking back at his time in Mexico, Daniel said he “wasn’t on the right path” even at a young age. He believes without a doubt, had he been there longer, the trajectory of his life would have been much different. Comparing the parallels of his own life with the DreamKids, Daniel understands the importance of having a program to impact kids in a positive way.

“On behalf of the U.S. Dream Academy, we were pleased to award $10,000 at the gala to three students as well as receive a commitment for $32,500 per year in scholarships from Washington Adventist University for DreamKids who attend their college,” said Diane Wallace Booker, Founding Executive Director of U.S. Dream Academy. “These scholarships paired with Oprah Winfrey’s surprise gift announcement, really made our 25th anniversary celebration very special.”

Since 2001, the annual Power of a Dream Gala has raised more than $20 million to assist with the provision of high-quality after-school programs specifically tailored for children living in high-risk communities.