Dream A Dream

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Dream A Dream: Enabling Teachers to develop life skills amongst Young People

Bangalore, IndiaBangalore, India
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Dream A Dream's mission is "to nurture the uniqueness of young people from vulnerable backgrounds and foster their passion for
learning, so that they are able to creatively respond to the frantic pace of change in the world."

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

Learning truly helped us respond with empathy in an increasingly complex world
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

140 Million young people from vulnerable backgrounds in India need to leap frog into an unpredictable and complex future successfully and for this they will need creativity and empathy. They need abilities to take initiative, be adaptable and work in teams. Teachers who are transformative, creative, emphatic, authentic and life long learners are uniquely positioned to unlock their creative potential and empower them to make positive life choices.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Dream Teacher Development Program transforms teachers to Be more emphatic, more authentic, more creative and facilitate learning environments. The model uses play & experiential techniques to develop various skills in teachers, such as, expanding their own creativity, listening and validation skills, the ability to share with authenticity and learn tools to meaningfully engage young people in learning. In addition, learning to build supportive peer communities and be life-long innovators of learning. We aim to develop a pool of over 2000 skilled teachers through a transformation focused design framework which can help young people develop the life skills required to take on the challenges of 21st century.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Sanjay is Government High School teacher in Harapanahalli, a small town in North Karnataka. He was not keen to attend the training, thinking it would be a waste of time. On Day 1, he planned to come for a couple of hours. Few hours later, he continued to stay and engaged in play, dancing, theatre, fun and learning. On Day 2, he was one of the first to arrive and gave more than his full participation. Post the training, he observed a visible shift in his behavior towards students - he was listening, observing and engaging them without anger or aggression. He brought more play and facilitation in his approach with immediate results. He sent a recommendation letter to all teachers and he re-discovered his passion for teaching.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Engaged 500 teachers from 18 partners 1. 100% have stated they have a deeper understanding of the young person and their adversity. 2. 80% have learnt new skills to engage young people in learning productively and without using corporate punishment 3. 80% believe they will bring more empathy and listening in their classrooms after the training. Engaged 5000 young people directly from 24 partners in Life Skills programs and established a ground-up innovation lab for learning. Projected Future Impact 1. Engage 2000 teachers over 2 years to enhance their creativity, empathy, ability to listen, create safe learning spaces and being more authentic as role models for over 200,000 young people. 2. Measure Life Skills Impact on a sample of 2000 young people. 3. Develop a proof of design and impact at scale that can be taken to over 100,000 teachers with government partnerships.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

1. Engage 2000 teachers across Urban and Rural India in the Teacher Development Program 2. Establish Impact at Scale for further adoption by government to reform teacher learning across India 3. Advocate for re-imagining learning curriculum through a network of partner NGOs (over 20), volunteers (over 2000) and strategic partners 4. Build a time of Lead Trainers for replication and adoption across regions through alumni who have been through our training 5. Create a technology platform for teacher resources and continuous learning

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Its costs approx. $ 100 to engage one teacher across 4 workshops translating to $ 1 per young person. Dream A Dream has a strong history of support from Dell, Nike, State Street, Global fund for Children, a comprehensive fundraising strategy, reserves of 1-year to sustain programs and a pipeline built for 2 years. We plan to focus on scale and impact and work towards government adoption and long-term support.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

In India, The Teacher Foundation, Rishi Valley, Magic Bus, Pratham, Azim Premji Foundation are doing similar work. The Teacher Foundation focuses on whole school transformation through content, curriculum and administrative reform. Rishi Valley is focused on curriculum through their innovative child-centered learning. Magic Bus scales through direct interventions using sport. Azim Premji is focused on teacher certification and policy reform. Dream A Dream is invested in preparing young people with life skills needed for the 21st century through transforming the teacher, a critical role model.

Founding Story

A chance encounter with a lady who worked as a bartender and a gentleman who was a security guard in Finland, pushed 21-year old Vishal to challenge his upbringing which was filled with prejudice and bias towards people who came from different backgrounds. He wondered why the domestic help in his house sat on the floor while his family sat on the table during meals. He wanted to create a world where each individual can live with dignity and is appreciated for who they are (amazing human beings) and not discriminated against because of their background, class, caste or sex. This led to 12 young people, just out of college, coming together to start Dream A Dream in 1999. "Through engagement, empowerment and play, the world can be changed."


Dream A Dream has 36 full-time staff, 36-part-time facilitators - 18 of them graduates from our program and 20 Lead Trainers including 4 graduates. The board consists of 5 people with a combined experience of over 120 years in NGO management, scaling, strategic planning, people, resource mobilization. Our inspiration is values of trust, ownership, accountability and that every staff member incl leadership has to work with young people directly
About You
Dream A Dream
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name

Dream A Dream

How long has your organization been operating?

Please select

Organization Country

, KA, Bangalore

Country where this project is creating social impact

, KA, Bangalore

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Individuals, Foundations, Businesses, Other.


1. Winner of the Outstanding Annual Report Awards in 2010 and Runner-up in 2008 & 2009.
2. Amongst 8 Regional Finalists at the Apeejay India Volunteer Awards
3. 2011 Winner of the silver award at the Global Sports Forum Barcelona
4. Awarded the Football For Hope Award from FIFA to support our Dream Life Skills through Sport Program for 4 years in a row
5. One of the top four finalists in the medium category for the India NGO Awards 2013 , 2010 & 2008.
6. Featured in the DASRA report, “Power of Play: Sports for Development in India” in 2013
7. A team of six young people selected to represent at the Football for Hope Festival held during the World Cup in Brazil in July 2014
8. Awarded “New Skills in Sports Instruction” at Educasport World Forum 2013
9. Runner-up at the GDN Development Marketplace of the "Most Innovative Project" in 2010
10. The Cofounder, Vishal Talreja was awarded the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005 and Eisenhower Fellowship in 2013
11. The Life Skills Assessment Scale: Measuring life skills of disadvantaged children in the developing world. A paper co-authored by Dr. David Pearson, Dr. Fiona Kennedy and Vishal Talreja published in Social Behaviour & Personality, an International Journal in March 2014 resulting in standardization of the Life Skills Assessment Scale, the first ever scale to measure life skills amongst disadvantaged kids.

Primary Target Age Group

6 - 12, 13 - 17.

Your role in Education

After-School Provider, Coach, Counselor, Social Worker, Teacher.

Please specify which of the following best applies:

I am applying on behalf of a particular program or initiative.

The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with (if applicable)

Public (tuition-free), Private (tuition-based), Other.

Intervention Focus

Extracurricular, Professional Development, Community, other.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Equip Adults to Drive Change in Learning: Providing creative learning experiences for teachers, parents, working professions and others that empowers them to drive change in any part of the learning ecosystem.

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

Whole child development is undervalued: Essential parts of development get left behind as children get older, such as healthy habits, executive function, and social and emotional learning.


How do we measure transformation in teachers?


The Life Skills Assessment Scale (LSAS), a standardized scale to measure life skills

What key learning outcomes does your work seek to improve?

1. Transforming teachers / educators / youth workers to Be playful, creative, empathetic, listen from the heart, authentic and be facilitators of learning for young people.
2. Develop a training design framework to enable a teacher to be a life-long innovators and learners.
3. Develop and strengthen supportive communities within the teacher peer group.
4. Enabling teachers to nurture and foster young people’s ability to creatively respond to the frantic pace of change in the world

Secondary Form
PROGRAM DESIGN CLARITY: We are hungry to know more about what exactly your model consists of. Please succinctly list a) what main activities are you doing with your beneficiaries, b) where you carry out the activities? c) how often? d) for how many hours? e) who delivers the services? and f) any other brief details

The core of all our work at Dream A Dream is to Empower children and young people from vulnerable backgrounds with Life Skills. This is achieved through a 3 pronged approach

1. The After School Life Skills Programme for children in 8-15 age group from Urban Slum communities through school partnerships. 20 - 30 participants per batch, one session a week for 2 hours and about 25-30 sessions a year between June - February delivered by Life Skills Facilitators that are employed and trained by Dream A Dream. 18 of the 36 Life Skills Facilitators are graduates from our programme.

2. The Dream Connect Programme for young people in the 14-19 age group focused on developing Life Skills for livelihood / career. 14-15 year olds get career workshops delivered by trained facilitators in schools and 16+ age group get skill development programmes through 2 Dream Connect Centers that offer computer education, spoken English, communication skills, money management and workplace readiness programmes through short-term modules combined with mentoring, scholarship, internship, college admissions and job placement support.

3. The Teacher Development Programme empowers educators with life skills to deepen their impact on children and young people. Each batch of 20-30 participants get 4 workshops of 2 days each spread over 6-8 months delivered by 2 Lead Trainers from Dream A Dream. Each workshop uses play and experiential learning to unlock creativity and empathy in participants.

INSPIRATION: What do you consider the most important trends or evidence that inspire you to believe the world is ready to Re-imagine Learning? Please elaborate.

It is a different world. Barriers of class, caste are breaking. There is a fair chance for every individual, irrespective of the backgrounds they come from, to rise above their circumstances and live a life of empathy, nurturing themselves and the world around them. There has never been a better time than now, for children and young people to grow up with Empathy, love and care to deal with the complex challenges of an unpredictable and fast changing world. Every young person, irrespective of their background, needs to be and can be a changemaker.

LEARNING THROUGH PLAY: What does “learning through play” mean to you and why it is a must-have, instead of a nice to have?

We at Dream A Dream believe that when we have powerful learning experiences, those experiences transform us and we can't go back to who we were, we can only move forward and grow from there. Play intrinsically creates powerful learning experiences - helps break barriers, break stereotypes, builds and nurtures relationships, creates laughter and fun and reconnects with the joy that is life.

In an increasingly divided and complex world, Play is critical to to bring people together, unlock creativity, nurture empathy in each of us and help us find solutions together.

SUSTAINABILITY: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating the percentage that comes from each source.

Grants - 19%; Corporate Foundations - 34%; Corporate CSR Programmes - 5%; Partnerships - 9%; Individual donors - 19%; Events & Campaigns - 14%

MODEL: How does your mission relate to your business model (i.e. Non-profit, for-profit or hybrid)?

We run on a non-profit model because we believe each individual in society needs to invest in the future of the most vulnerable children. We don't look at contributions as donations but as investments to make our communities safe for our children, to foster empathy and respect, to nurture dignity for each kind of work and to most importantly appreciate unique differences in each individual irrespective of the backgrounds we come from.

FUNDING PRIORITIES: If your organization were given $20K in unrestricted funding today, how would you use it? Why?

The need for Life Skills for our children is critical and urgent to prepare them for a complex, unpredictable future. One organization alone cannot make this happen. We would invest the funding in building a movement towards "Life Skills for all children" across the eco-system.

PARTNERSHIPS: Tell us about your partnerships that enhance your approach.

42 Schools partners to engage over 10000 children and young people in various Life Skills Programme. 18 Partners NGOs / Schools transforming over 500 teachers. PYE Global, A Global youth development organization that is helping us train and empower over 50 Lead Trainers to scale our programme to 2200 teachers. Grassroots Soccer and PYE Global helping develop curriculums. Dr. Dave and Dr. Fiona helping assess Life skills impact.

COLLABORATIONS: Have you considered or initiated partnerships with any of the other Challenge Pacesetters? If so, please share.

We have initiated discussions with LEMA - Literacy Education and Math Lab for possibly bringing their programme to India. We would like to explore partnership with River - Rishi Valley and Masti in India. Consider Women Win to strengthen our gender sensitivity curriculum & Global Cardboard Challenge

VISION: If you had unlimited funding, and you could fast forward 15 years to when your program has been able to achieve wild success - what will it have achieved?

A world
1. Where Unique differences in each individual are appreciated and celebrated.
2. Where an individual can live and make life choices with dignity irrespective of the backgrounds they come from.
3. Where each child has the skills to overcome adversity in a nurturing, safe environment
4. Where we respond to challenges with empathy and find creative solutions that work for everyone.
5. Where living with joy is celebrated.

IMPACT - KEY METRICS: Please list the key data points that you would cite as evidence that you are able to achieve lasting learning outcomes. Please also share one data point for which you most hope to see better results over time

Children and young people in our programme show significant and consistent improvement in 5 life skills measured - Ability to take initiative, ability to manage conflict, ability to overcome difficulties and solve problems, ability to interact with each other and ability to understand and follow-through instructions. The Dream Life Skills Assessment Scale (attached) helps us measure this year on year. Hope to see better Empathy.

IMPACT - REPORTING SAMPLE: Please attach any examples of your impact reporting. [optional]:
RESEARCH AND EVIDENCE: Please link or attach any research or evidence resource you are open to sharing more widely [optional]. Building research and evidence is a key aim of this initiative, and the resources you share may be chosen for listing in the Center for Education Innovations library:
SOURCE: If applicable - who created the research or evidence you are choosing to share? :
IMPACT - REACH: How many people did your project directly engage in programmatic activities in the last year?

1,001 to 10,000

STUDY: Has an external evaluation or study been conducted of your organization?


Other (please specify)
Number of Employees:


Number of Volunteers:

More than 1,000

APPROACHES: Given the complexity of play, it is not surprising that there have been numerous research attempts to categorize the different types and approaches! Please indicate which of the following your project focuses on.

Physical Play, Symbolic Play, Creating a Supportive Socio-Emotional Environment, Providing a Range of Opportunities (providing the equipment and materials needed for various types of play), Adults Participating (Ensuring adults are able to play alongside children), Challenging Play (play that disrupts - where rules are disregarded and levels of imagination are high), Other (please specify).

Other (please specify)

Life Skills Development through Play; Empowering Teachers with Life Skills through Play

AFFILIATION: Please specify if your organization has any existing affiliations with the LEGO Group.