Dream Project

Whom We Serve

The University of Washington Dream Project serves two populations: primarily first-generation and/or low-income students and UW undergraduates from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Historically, first-generation and low-income students have, for a variety of reasons, struggled to access higher education. The Dream Project seeks to help alleviate this diminished access to higher education through focused outreach that educates such individuals to a wide range of educational opportunities and assists them in taking advantage of them.

First generation to attend college

First-generation students include individuals whose parents or guardians have not obtained a 2- or 4-year college degree. First-generation students often have little or no awareness of what educational opportunities are available and often don’t understand the process for attaining a postsecondary degree.

Low-income families

Difficult economic circumstances can prevent students from pursuing an education, even when their families have some history of higher education. Education is often secondary to more immediate concerns for many low-income families.

Individuals and families having faced or facing hardships

Generally, challenging financial circumstances go hand-in-hand with hardships of one kind or another. Children from economically limited families face difficulties in merely surviving and rarely have the time or resources to avail themselves of educational opportunities. Such difficulties can steer some students away from education as a life choice.

We never turn a student away

While our primary target population is outlined here, the Dream Project never turns a student away regardless of his or her situation. This includes students, for example, from high schools where we don’t currently partner.

Our Target Population

Our high school campuses are selected based on a number of factors, one of which is the proportion of students who fall into the categories above. Below is a breakdown of our high school populations compared to the overall Washington State population.

School districts that we serve

  • Seattle Public Schools
  • Highline Public Schools
  • Auburn School District
  • Federal Way School District
  • Tukwila School District
  • Kent School District
  • Renton School District

High school student demographics by race/ethnicity

The Dream Project partners with high schools that serve a higher number of underrepresented students. Students of color and students from low-income households are less likely to apply to, gain admission to, and persist in college. Dream Project partner high schools also have a lower presence of college-readiness programs and community-based organizations when compared to other urban Seattle high schools. Students at Dream Project partner high schools are less likely, on average, to step foot on a college campus than the average Washington State high school student.1

1. Levine, A. & Nidiffer, J. (1996). Beating the odds: How the poor get into college. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch

Dream Project partner high schools serve a higher number of students who receive free or reduced price lunch than the average number from high schools across Washington State. Most of these students will be the first in their families to attend an institution of higher education, which means they often lack the social and monetary capital necessary to apply to and pay for college.

These data are a representative sample of the Dream Project’s 16 partner high schools from 2012: