CTC, nonprofit team up to bring STEM Saturday to Killeen

A nonprofit serving underprivileged students in New Orleans and Miami will bring a STEM initiative to the Killeen area for the first time.

Dibia DREAM, in partnership with the Center for African-American Studies of Central Texas College, plans to engage more than 80 students Dec. 1, through STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — activities and recreation.

The event, dubbed STEM Saturday, will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Marion J. and Alice W. Douse Community Center at 1002 Jefferis Ave.

Dibia DREAM blends STEM education with academic tutoring, health and wellness, financial literacy, physical education, and mentorship to engage underserved youth in order to improve their educational opportunities, outcomes and long-term quality of life.

Participating students will design, build, and test their own race cars.

STEM Saturdays will be a youth initiative that is a citywide, geared toward families interested in community-based academic events where students and parents can attend and learn together.

There is no cost for students and their families.

“Science, technology, engineering, and, math are often the basis for new product innovation and improvement. Therefore, it is important that the next generation is exposed to these areas of study at an early age,” said Horace Grace, director of the center for African-American studies of Central Texas College.

Dr. Yvette Holmes, the oldest granddaughter of Marion and Alice Douse, is passionate about impacting the community where she and her cousins spent their summers and holidays growing up.

The Douses’ youngest granddaughter, Lea McKinnon, is an educator of students with learning differences at the Killeen Independent School District’s new Roy J. Smith Middle School and works with the STEM Academy program there.

Call 850-320-3785 for information on sponsorship and volunteer opportunities.

(From KDHNews.com http://kdhnews.com/news/education/ctc-nonprofit-team-up-to-bring-stem-saturdayto-killeen/article_1ecfffa2-e0a4-11e8-8694-074e59c14ffd.html )

Dibia DREAM Creates Business out of Teaching STEM through Sports

Post Via Small Business Trends: https://smallbiztrends.com/2018/02/stem-sports-dibia-dream.html

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. And the focus on these disciplines has been making a huge mark on the education world. There are also plenty of after-school programs focused on sports and recreation. But Dibia DREAM is a program — and a business — that aims to mix those two concepts to help underserved kids in a really unique way.

Learn more about the business and what it aims to accomplish for kids in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Helps underserved youth learn important skills through STEM, sports and recreational programs.

Brandon A. Okpalobi, CEO of Dibia DREAM told Small Business Trends, “DREAM focuses on helping underserved youth in Miami, New Orleans and Bermuda translate the skills required to win in sports into skills required to win at life. This approach created a blueprint for success that youth can understand.”

Business Niche

Mixing STEM with sports and recreation.

Okpalobi says, “We have worked extremely hard and done extensive research to ensure our students have exposure to STEM. WE feel that STEM allows our students the critical thinking skills to become great at whatever field they decide to pursue after working in STEM.”

How the Business Got Started

Because of a passion for sports and helping people.

Okpalobi says, “As a young CEO, I work to unlock youth potential through sports. I moved to Miami to attend the University of Miami and walked on to the Division 1 basketball team. I earned a full scholarship and was later elected team captain. After graduation, I combined my business education and passion for sports to start my organizations.”

Biggest Win

Partnering with the Nyah Project and taking ten kids to South Africa July 2017 for 12 days.

Okpalobi explains, “I was watching Roots at night and the next day I had a client on my for-profit sports development business and the parent said, “I’m taking my kids to Isreal but I don’t practice the religion.” I said to myself, you have to ask him why is he taking his kids if he’s not that into it. He said “it’s important that my kids know their heritage, where they come from and other details that they will learn on this trip.” At that moment I said I’m taking kids to Africa next year. Not sure how but I will do it. Leigh-Ann Buchanan started the Nyah Project and took 7 kids to Ghana that year. I reached out to her and said “hey I don’t want to plan anything but ill sponsors 3 kids so it can be ten kids and I’ll go on the trip.” The rest is history. Life changing experience.”

Biggest Risk

Starting the business in the first place.

Okpalobi says, “Started my business with a dollar and a DREAM literally. If it didn’t work then I would be miserable working for someone and hating it daily. Living in regret is the worst punishment.”

Lesson Learned

Be nice and ask for help.

Okpalobi says, “I can be difficult at times and that rubs people the wrong way. I’m also extremely confident so at times it appears that I don’t need help or anyone when I really do.”


How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Adding another location.

Okpalobi explains, “We would add another DREAM Academy in Homestead, cutler Bay, Perrine, New Orleans or Killeen, Texas to help youth in the community win at life through our program”

Favorite Quote

“Never waste the opportunity of youth” – Nathan Vandelay

* * * * *

Dibia DREAM – STEM in Sports Camps Summer 2017

Dibia DREAM – STEM in Sports Camps Summer 2017

The educational Slip and Slide is what you can call the weeks between school ending for the summer and starting back in the fall.  Many do not realize how big of a difference there is between a child who is engaged during the summer and a child who is left at home to their own devises. Teachers can tell the difference.

According to a Huffington Post article teachers “spend three to four weeks re-teaching students course material at the beginning of the year”.  This can be combated with programs like Dibia’s STEM in Sports Camps.  We engage kids in education and physical activities.  This year Dibia DREAM worked with two of Miami’s summer camps to effect a change in the educational and physical lives of youth locally.

Cutler Bay Camp

“We partnered with the City of Cutler Bay for the first STEM in Sports camp. Sponsored by The Children’s Trust in partnership with Carnegie Mellon and Miami Dade College, we worked with youth during the summer month to increase awareness around STEM fields,” said Brandon Okpalobi, Dibia DREAM Founder.

The Cutler Bay Camp serviced 40 youth in this South Florida community.  “Our goal was to combat the “Summer Education Slide” and stress the importance of health and wellness through sports,” he said.

According to LaKeesha Morris-Moreau, Grants Coordinator for the Office of the Town Manager for the Town of Cutler Bay “The STEM camp is a direct result of input from the community requesting more activities for older youth that are not interested in participating in the athletic activities offered in the Town,” she said.

The camp exceeded the expectations and set goals of the organizations according to Morris-Moreau.  Here are some key factors that she pointed out from this first year of camp:

  • 40 Middle School Students from Cutler Bay Middle School and surrounding high-need areas enrolled in the program.
  • Using a combination of hands on learning and online assessments, students were able to earn badges that will lead to an Introduction to Robotics Certification from Carnegie Mellon University.
  • At the recommendation of Carnegie Mellon, we expected youth to earn no more than two (2) out of four (4) badges in the brief six (6) week program. We were surprised to find that not only did all of the students meet or exceed the goal of earning two badges, but two students earned all of the badges and passed the challenging final exam to earn the Introduction to Robotics Certification!

Morris-Moreau said, “This program re-affirmed our belief that when properly motivated and nurtured, students will not only meet our expectations, but exceed them when given the opportunity.   We could not be more proud of them.”

The physical portion of this camp was also important according to Morrise-Moreau.  “Since the program focused heavily on instruction and computer based learning, we felt that it was necessary for students to have an engaging way to release some energy and focus on personal fitness.  Dibia DREAM enhanced the program by offering a structured and challenging fitness program that the students could enjoy. “

Camp Honey Shine

Dibia DREAM has partnered with Honey Shine, Inc. to provide STEM awareness for the last two years during Camp Honey Shine.  The program serves 150 girls ages 8 to 18 from low-economic situations from throughout Miami-Dade County.

Okpalob said, “We not only focus on the STEM in Sports curriculum, but we also have enhanced focus on self-esteem and character building, and increase each girl’s physical fitness goal at Honey Shine.”

Dibia DREAM partnered with NIKE for the health and wellness portion of Camp Honey Shine bringing this program to new heights in 2017.  With the combination of physical health and their academic curriculum Camp Honey Shine gives us the opportunity to touch the lives of girls that come areas like Overtown, Liberty City, Little Haiti, and Little Havana to name a few. These girls face daily challenges in their communities and Camp Honey Shine becomes a safe haven for them during the summer.

DREAMPaks - Feeding Our Youth

Dibia DREAM partnered with Hyatt B.L.A.C.K. of Hyatt Regency New Orleans launch Carrying Dreams Home Initiative. 

Think back to when you were in elementary and middle school was your last meal for the week Friday’s lunch at 11:00 a.m.?   At least 1 in 6 kids go home on weekends carrying this static on their back the United States.  That’s 13 million children according to NoKidHungry.org’s 2016 Fact Sheet.

Dibia DREAM partnered with Hyatt B.L.A.C.K. of Hyatt Regency New Orleans in April of 2017 to launch Carrying Dreams Home serving kids attending our DREAM Academy at Kipp Central City Academy.  Children in the program were provided with a reusable “DREAMPak” at the end of each week to take home.  “DREAMPaks” included non-perishable foods and healthy snacks to help the kids and their families get through the weekend with nourishment.

“Our goal is to provide resources that help bridge and eliminate health disparities as well as accelerate health equity in New Orleans. When our kids come to school hungry, they are unable to focus, and incapable of putting forth maximum effort in the classroom,” said Dibia DREAM Founder Brandon Okpalobi.

As a New Orleans native Okpalodi saw many of his classmates have this struggle in school.  “Carrying Dreams Home is one way we hope to help improve these conditions for them, while alleviating the hunger gap we are seeing in many of these children. Our kids need and deserve proper nourishment-- not only during the school day or while attending an afterschool program, but also on those days they are not attending school. Through this program, we aim to provide just that,” he said.

100 percent of the students participating in the DREAM Academy at Kipp Central City Academy are eligible for the National School Lunch Program.   The afterschool program was relaunched this year also.  From 3-6 p.m. more than 50 students are guided through the afterschool program that concentrates on a holistic and hands on developmental curriculum that covers academics, athletics and life skills. Building on DREAM’s five learning pillars – education, financial literacy, health and wellness, mentorship and sports – the program is designed to push critical thinking skills, while reinforcing the program’s core principals.

Our goal is to expand this initiative in the other communities we have programming.  As an organization Dibia DREAM is looking to serve 1,000 kids a day in the DRAM Academy.  By supporting our DREAMs you can help expand this program.

DREAM BIG - NBA All-Star STEM Clinic


In February DREAM in partnership with the NBA Retired Players Association and STEM NOLA hosted a DREAM BIG Clinic igniting the fire in youth for an introduction into our STEM initiative.

Over 100 youth were impacted at our ‘STEM in Sports Curriculum' during NBA All-Star Weekend in February 2017, hosted in the mighty city of New Orleans. “This curriculum is designed to be the perfect blend of sports, educational development, with an emphasis on life skills and physical fitness,” said Brandon Okpalobi, Founder of Dibia DREAM.

The boys and girls ages 7-16 were able to work on physical conditioning and skills as well as learn and experience how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics can take them to new heights.

According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while other occupations are growing at 9.8%.  The youth that participated in the program are at a disadvantage in this growing career area.  Though STEM funding is on the rise many youth may not experience this unique combination of curriculum.  The STEM industry has shown to have more equal pay opportunities for women and across ethnicity.

Attendees were motivated to pursue their dreams as they left with confidence to excel academically, socially, and athletically.  Exposure to STEM at a DREAM BIG Clinic is one way DREAM looks to foster growth in the youth we serve year-round.

Thank you to all of our partners and sponsors who made this event possible.

Check out the DREAM BIG Clinic video!