Baltimore, MD has been in the news for quite a bit this year. Let's put Baltimore in the news for the social good that is being created! One Millennial woman is changing the social services game. In what the social services agency is lacking, she is picking up the slack.
Meet Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Dream Girls Mentoring Program, Incorporated, Tamira Dunn. She's a 28-year-old native Baltimorean, and way more than just a pretty face. She's an educated African-American woman and a force of love!
Embracing her life and story, she has used her own experiences to breathe life into social organizations that supports young mothers. Her experiences are laid in a foundation with her academic career. This CEO has a Master of Science degree in Human Service Administration from University of Baltimore, and is a currently a Ph.D. candidate at Walden University.
So, what contributed or influenced her to establish Dream Girls Mentoring Program?
Several of her friends became pregnant at an early age and she saw how difficult it was for them. At the age of 19, she found herself taking full responsibility for her god-daughter. Her friend was 17 and pregnant with her second child.
Dunn felt it necessary to provide a program that would deliver resources and support to young moms. So, she founded Dream Girls Mentoring Program, Inc. Ms. Dunn has received many citations from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake and Senator Barbara Mikulski. She has also been awarded a resolution from Council President Bernard Jack Young’s office for her countless efforts towards bettering the lives of teen moms. She is apart of the Women of Power Organization and received her award in 2011 and awarded Top 30 under 30 by 92Q Jams.
What particular challenges or difficulties are young mothers in the City of Baltimore facing?
"There are so many challenges that young mothers face in Baltimore. Number one on the list in my opinion is childcare. They can't afford childcare so they will either stay at home forcing them to become a high school drop out or get a family member to watch them. They don't always qualify for daycare vouchers through the Department of social services. Housing is another issue. I've found that some young moms get put out from their home forcing them to stay in shelters or with other relatives. Young parents are faced with many challenges and that's why our program is so important. We help them to knock down those barriers that prevent them from being successful" Tamira Dunn.
Dream Girls Mentoring Program is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, founded in 2008. It was founded as a program that caters to the needs (as well as mentor) of teen moms within the City of Baltimore. Dream Girls has flourished to host Project D.R.E.A.M., Summer Dreams Day Camp, and other programs. It is the mission of this organization to produce Dedicated, Responsible, Educated, Aspiring and Motivated (DREAM) girls.
Through Project D.R.E.A.M, over 20 young moms have earned a high school diploma, enroll in a college or job training program, and received assistance with daycare, housing, and other community resources. Dunn has established a beautiful system of pairing young moms with college educated mentors that guide them on their journey to accomplish their personal and professional goals. Mentorship has proven to be influential in not only the young mothers life, but their children’s lives as well.
In addition, to ensure that the community as a whole has an opportunity to receive necessities, resources, job information and health information, Dream Girls Mentoring hosts Annual Community Events. During these events, the community is able to receive information and resources free of costs.
Mainstream media has a lot to say about young moms or illustrates a negative portrayal of young mom lifestyles. What realities of young mom lifestyles does Dunn want society to know about?
She wants society to know that what you see on 16 and pregnant and teen mom isn't the reality of all teen moms. They aren't bad people because they chose to become parents at an early age. They are real people with real emotions. Treat them just like you would treat someone who was older and pregnant. Don't talk about them if you aren't willing to help them.
Dunn's passion for helping others and community did not stop at founding Dream Girls Mentoring Program, Inc. Devastated by the loss of her son, Dunn co- founded Elijah’s Hope Foundation Inc. The foundation provides resources and support to women who have suffered from a pregnancy or early child loss. The loss of her son was very heartbreaking, but she has used her passion for helping others to create a resource for women who have experienced the same loss. Her goal is to empower women to keep the faith inspire of their loss.
Motivated by the quote, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” by Mahatma Gandhi, Tamira Dunn wishes to continue to encourage, uplift, and motivate women to become their own CEO. She wants young women to go after their dream no matter how big or small it is.
Don't ever count Tamira Dunn down or out. She beautifully transitioned her passions, experiences, education, and skills into founding organizations that prove that motherhood is not the ending of your book, but the beginning of a new chapter. Life continues and it's okay to seek help. It's okay to accept offers of assistance, especially when it can help lead to thriving self-sufficient lifestyle.