Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who attends the DreamCatchers after-school program?

We have 60-70 wonderful middle school students who attend Palo Alto Unified.  To qualify for DreamCatchers, there is a maximum household income cut-off and students must show that they are willing to take full advantage of the support offered by our fantastic tutors.  The DreamCatchers program is free to all of our students.

In case you didn’t know, there is a huge gap in academic achievement in Palo Alto correlated to household income.  Only one in four students from low-income, Latino households test at grade level, while over 90% of their non-economically disadvantaged classmates are at grade level.  As someone who has successfully navigated middle school, YOU can make a difference in these students’ lives.

 

2. Is DreamCatchers a drop-in tutoring program?

No!  Our students are assigned to a specific class (e.g., Mon/Wed 4-6 PM) and attend a DreamCatchers class at the same time, four hours a week.  The students sign a contract agreeing to come to the program regularly, ready to get their schoolwork done.

 

3. What is the commitment for TUTORS?

ONE-ON-ONE TUTORS are paired with one student throughout the year, and we expect a long-term commitment and regular attendance.  We understand that tutors have their own busy lives, so accommodations are made as needed. However your student comes to count on you so please make every effort to come each week. Our greatest need is always for ONE-ON-ONE TUTORS.

If you are ready to be a ONE-ON-ONE TUTOR and make the commitment to one student (you won’t regret it!), the available time slots for 2018-19 are:

Wednesday 4-6 PM, Wednesday 6-8 PM, Thursday 6-8 PM

If you want to be a tutor but cannot make those times OR cannot make the full commitment, you can still be a CLASSROOM TUTOR. You can miss weeks at a time since any student you choose to work with has a ONE-ON-ONE TUTOR as well. The available time slots for 2018-19 for CLASSROOM TUTORS are:

 Monday 4-6 PM, Monday 6-8 PM, Tuesday 6-8 PM

 

4. As a TUTOR, am I on my own during those two hours?

Absolutely not!  First, you are in a classroom setting with 12-20 other students and/or student-tutor pairs.  Second, there is a team of Stanford students (CLASSROOM DIRECTORS) who manage the classroom and know each DreamCatchers student well.  Third, there is a team of professionals who provide targeted materials, resources and training for you.  They communicate with your student’s teachers, parents, guidance counselors and will help you figure out -- with your student -- how to best use those two hours.

 

5. What is the atmosphere like?

We like to call it our “productive buzz.”  It’s not a library and it’s not school, but it’s also not a recreation center.  We often have short group or student-tutor activities planned by our Education Director, but the bulk of the time is spent between you and your student, working positively and productively on schoolwork.  Classroom Directors and our professional staff float throughout the room to help or just check in.  It is not uncommon to hear laughter and light-hearted banter mixed with talk of variables, fractions and finding key facts in the textbook.  Snack break is built into every session.  In a report written by a Stanford grad student and former classroom teacher, DreamCatchers was described as providing “the casual, nurturing aspects of home with the academic rigor of school.”

 

6. Do I need any prior training or experience?

Absolutely not.  Just be ready to listen and learn.  Listen to your student.  Learn what s/he needs and we will help you from there.  Be a positive presence in his/her life.  Ask us for guidance and support.  We also provide an initial training and orientation that is mandatory for all of our new tutors, and then short bursts of training throughout the year, after class, based on tutor feedback. 

 

7. What does a CLASSROOM DIRECTOR do? 

CLASSROOM DIRECTORS are Stanford students who choose to take on a bigger role at DreamCatchers.  They function like classroom teachers – learning classroom management skills and leading group activities.  They meet regularly with our Program Director, who provides training targeted to improve their skills.  They also work directly with the students in their classroom and help student-tutor pairs.  It’s four hours a week of after-school class time, plus 2-4 hours a month of training time (held on Stanford campus). 

CLASSROOM DIRECTORS usually work in pairs – two to a classroom.  Time slots for 2018-19 are:

Monday and Wednesday 4-6 PM, Monday and Wednesday 6-8 PM, Tuesday and Thursday 6-8 PM

 

8. Why would I choose to be a CLASSROOM DIRECTOR?

It’s a bigger time and responsibility commitment with a bigger reward. 

You will get to know your students well.  You will work more closely with our experienced professional staff.  You will gain an experience that prepares you to work as an educator, but also as a problem-solver and leader.  You will learn what it means to be authoritative without being authoritarian and improve your EQ (emotional IQ).  You will learn how to multi-task in a work environment where you are responsible for other human beings!  Although some of our CLASSROOM DIRECTORS are interested in education, many of our alumni go on to medical school, law school and jobs in the tech industry.

If you enjoy working with parents or communicating with classroom teachers, you will be supported by our professional staff to get involved in the work we do.

You will be paid an hourly wage for your work as a CLASSROOM DIRECTOR.

Interested candidates should apply (click here) and will be contacted by our Program Director for an interview.

 

9. How can I help with Social Media?

We are always looking for ways to reach into your peer groups’ community – whether it’s high school, Stanford or the Palo Alto community -- to get the word out about the great things that are happening at DreamCatchers.  We are the first to admit that we spend the bulk of our time improving our program and the experiences of our students, families and tutors – and not so much on social media and marketing.  If you have any experience with social media (e.g., website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) or marketing (flyers, publications, interviews, graphic design), please let us know if you are interested in helping us.

  • Post regular updates on our Facebook page, Instagram, and website to inform the community about recent events and exciting aspects of the DreamCatchers program

  • Build a community of followers and friends on Facebook and Instagram

  • Write articles and stories about our program, students, and organization events to be published on social media sites as well as in our newsletter, donor materials, and website

  • Interview students, parents, and tutors to write personal, moving narratives about the program's impact on the lives of members of the DreamCatchers community

 

10. What are the responsibilities of the Stanford Student Group (VSO) Financial Officer?

Along with the Classroom Directors, the Financial Officer position is filled by a Stanford student who is willing to take on a bigger responsibility for the organization.  We usually tap a current DreamCatchers volunteer to become our Financial Officer, but if you are interested, please let us know and we will find a way to get you involved.  The role entails:

  • Work closely with the Executive Director to develop organizational budget and fiscal goals

  • Receive financial officer training through the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) on financial management for student groups

  • Keep track of expenditures and Student Group finances throughout the year

  • Secure Stanford student group funding through the ASSU and The Stanford Fund, including working with the DreamCatchers leadership team to prepare, present, and defend budget proposals before the ASSU and The Stanford Fund.

  • Work with the leadership team and volunteers to fulfill The Stanford Fund stewardship obligations, including letter and postcard writing.

  • Process reimbursements to facilitate smooth day-to-day operations of the program

 

11. How else can I pitch in to help DreamCatchers close the Opportunity Gap for low-income students in Palo Alto?

Come and talk to us!  Email us at dreamcatchersyouth@gmail.com.  We have been fortunate to work with so many amazing volunteers of all ages, interests, backgrounds and availability.  Currently, our biggest challenge is getting the word out about the problem – the significant Opportunity Gap in Palo Alto – and our contribution to the solution.  We are always looking for ways to plant our roots deeper into the Stanford and Palo Alto/Silicon Valley community.