More than 85 percent of Lipscomb Elementary School’s students are minorities. Eighty percent receive a free lunch. There is little parent participation in the school, and many of the children don’t receive adequate individual attention at home, according to Lipscomb principal B.G. Renaud.

Eighteen months ago, Renaud decided to do something about the problem.

“I read about (the I Have A Dream Foundation) in the papers, about how south and west Dallas schools were getting help,” Renaud says.

Walter Durham, president of the I Have A Dream Foundation, heard of Renaud’s interest in the program and, “because of his persuasiveness and persistence,” Durham contacted Renaud.

Now the hard part begins: Renaud needs to solicit enough neighborhood support to launch the program at Lipscomb.

The I Have A Dream Foundation is a nationwide, non-profit organization promising disadvantaged fourth grade students assistance in obtaining $2,000 each in scholarships and grants for college or trade school. To earn the funding, the students must maintain a C average, stay away from drugs or gangs, and graduate from high school.

Throughout the program, volunteers take the children on educational field trips, as well as sporting events, museums and picnics.

“We want to teach them that it’s not only important to be good students but that it’s also fun to go on educational outings,” Durham says.

In the foundation’s four years of operation, it has targeted schools in south and west Dallas with historically high dropout rates.

“We needed geographical diversity,” Durham says. More than 2,000 students have been accepted into the program, he says.

But the program needs donations to thrive, Durham says, and the foundation’s limited resources mean that some students who need help can’t be accepted.

Yet, Durham wants to help Lipscomb’s approximately 120 fourth grade students, and he is looking to East Dallas and Lakewood for support.

“We’ve seen a great deal of community interest starting to develop through the Chambers,” Durham says, referring to the East Dallas, Lakewood and Hispanic chambers of commerce.

“We want to focus next on raising the scholarship and operating funds that will be necessary to start the program at Lipscomb and carry it through until the students graduate in 2000.

“But we are finding the economy is really affecting people. It’s getting harder and harder to raise money.”

Durham hopes to obtain enough support to initiate the Lipscomb program by the end of the year.

“We’re excited about the possibility of helping the new Lipscomb fourth graders have a dream for college, and we hope that the citizens and organizations of East Dallas will provide the support to make that happen,” Durham says.

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