A child grows up believing that being successful means getting high scores. The child is also socialised into associating happiness and fulfillment with good grades. In the process, one forgets how to dream. The Future Project aims at helping children in America dream as the founders believe in transforming lives by redefining success and give the courage to pursue one's dream.
Andrew Mangino and Kanya Balakrishna, both alumni of Yale University, founded The Future Project in 2011. Through the project, they place full-time mentors in schools called Dream Directors who are hired and trained by The Future Project. These mentors come with diverse backgrounds, from being a poet to a scientist. And they work with kids, inspiring and motivating them as lack of that is the major cause of school dropouts in America. Andrew, the CEO and founder told The Huffington Post,
“In the Great Depression, people used to store money under their mattresses. What we’re now facing in this country is a dream depression, where people store their dreams under their mattresses.”
When both the founders started working for Yale Daily News during their college days, they understood the reality and wanted to do something as a way of giving back to society. Initially it was difficult to convince the schools to let them bring in the mentors as they weren't focusing on test scores and grades.
However, they were able to involve and reach out to 500 students initially. And now they have made an impact in the lives of more than 30,000 students who, in turn, could create a larger impact on the society. Kanya told Forbes in an interview:
We started to imagine how the world could be if every young person learned to dream big, connect deeply to what they're uniquely passionate about, and put their dreams in action--all before they graduated from high school. We imagined a system that teaches people to take risks and bold action, use their imagination, passion, grit and leadership capability to thrive and be inspired to unleash their full potential.
What makes the project unique is that it is a grassroots approach based on what the kids wants for themselves and not what the adults wants to impose on the kids.