Congratulations to the Devoted Dreamers Academy for completing their first summer program. The Devoted Dreamers Academy is a summer program started by Demario Davis for middle school students based at Mission First in Jackson, Mississippi. This three part blog series will describe the process Smarter Learning Group went through with Demario Davis to make this program a reality. Read the second and third installments. 

Demario Davis, linebacker for the New York Jets, wanted to give back to his community. He had a vision for a summer camp in Jackson, Mississippi but he had a lot of questions about how to best implement a program, so he contacted Athletes for Hope who put him in touch with the Smarter Learning Group. We worked closely with him, advising him on several operational options—from starting a summer camp from scratch to imbedding a program with an existing organization. We created a budget for the program and over the course of several discussions, we worked with Demario to narrow down top goals for the program. Based on these discussions, he decided he wanted to run the program in conjunction with an existing organization. He wanted the program to have learning, athletic and character development components. He wanted to target middle school students and he wanted them to have a lot of fun.

Once the top goals for the program were clear, Smarter Learning Group used its relationship with the local Jackson United Way organization to vet possible sites for the Devoted Dreamers Academy. The United Way recommended several good programs in the area. Smarter Learning Group staff visited each site and spoke with staff. It was important to get a sense of the capacity of the organization with questions such as:

How many young […]