The U.S. Dream Academy is a national after school program using mentoring, tutoring, and technology education to empower children at risk of future incarceration.

Their 15th Annual Power of a Dream Gala will take place Tuesday night in Washington, D.C. honoring Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott; Jaime Casap, Global Education Evangelist; and Jarrett M. Adams, Judicial Law Fellow of the Southern District of N.Y.

On Tuesday, Laz Alonso, actor, producer, and co-host of the Dream Gala, and Wintley Phipps, CEO and Founder of the U.S. Dream Academy, joined guest host Derek McGinty on NewsOne Now to talk about this year’s celebration.

Phipps revealed the inspiration for the U.S. Dream Academy came out of his desire to “break the cycle of intergenerational incarceration” of those serving time behind bars and the children of those prison inmates, of which 70 percent end up being locked behind bars as well.

In order to begin chipping away at this devastating cycle Phipps said, “You have to increase the density of caring, loving adults in the life orbit of kids, especially when the family disintegrates.”

The other approach that works in conjunction with increased caring revolves around “interactive tutorial corrective academic support.” Phipps said, “By the age of thirty, 60 percent of all Black boys in America who don’t graduate from high school will be imprisoned.”

To combat this shocking statistic, the Grammy-nominated gospel singer began offering tutoring services and mentoring services to at-risk youth nearly twenty years ago. Phipps said a kid who makes it through the U.S. Dream Academy comes out with a “dream” that is “anchored” in their spirits and hearts. He added those who make it receive a glimpse of what they can be, as well as a glimpse of “what God is dreaming” they can be.

According to Phipps, the U.S. Dream Academy is built on three important pillars of character building, academic skills building, and dream building.

Phipps also shared powerful testimony about a chance encounter he had with a young lady thirty-five years ago after performing in Baltimore. After speaking with and praying for the young lady, Phipps explained he told her, “God has impressed me to tell you…He is going to bless you and give you an opportunity to speak to millions of people.”

It turns out that young lady was Oprah Winfrey, one of the biggest single supporters of the U.S. Dream Academy.

“When our kids see someone like her — wow — you can’t put a price on it,” Phipps said.

Watch NewsOne Now guest host Derek McGinty, Laz Alonso, and Wintley Phipps discuss this year’s U.S. Dream Academy Gala in the video clip above.

To support the U.S. Dream Academy, visit www.usdreamacademy.org/.

TV One’s NewsOne Now has moved to 7 A.M. ET, be sure to watch “NewsOne Now” with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.

Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.

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