media release about plan your dreams

Community Members Invited to Help Local Youth Plant Their Dreams

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The Academy for Personal and Scholastic Success, in partnership with the nonprofit Worldmaker International, is hosting a Plant Your Dreams event for Academy students on Sunday, April 25, 2021 at The Big Apple Orchard located west of Mount Vernon, Iowa. Community members are invited to attend.

The Academy, which uses an understanding of African American culture as a keystone for academic achievement and positive behaviors, is dedicated to providing their students with Black teachers, mentors and role models. The Plant Your Dreams event is the kick-off for a new Cultivating Resilience™ curriculum that Worldmaker is piloting at The Academy. “The curriculum offers a four-step process to strengthen students, encourage trusted relationships with community adults, and guide practical actions that nurture a positive vision for a student’s future,” says Dr. Mollie Marti, developer of the THRIVE Resilience Model that serves as the foundation for the program. The financial literacy piece of the program focused on helping youth achieve their dreams is being sponsored by Hills Bank.

Prior to the event, Academy students will be guided to name and pursue their truest dreams. At the event, students will then place their dreams in the ground as they plant a Liberty apple tree provided by The Big Apple Orchard, which is co-owned by Dr. Marti and her husband, Monte.  Dr. Ruth White, Executive Director of The Academy, says this type of innovative programming plays a pivotal role in not only meeting student’s social, emotional, and mental needs, but also in successful recruiting, “We are delighted to partner with Worldmaker International in this festive event that brings our community together and helps local families understand the benefits of The Academy’s mission and programs.

The Plant Your Dreams event will feature Jimmy Scroggins, an award winning former professional basketball player, soldier, and Mount Mercy University alum, who will provide inspiring and practical guidance on dream achievement. Participants will enjoy music by Iowa blues artist Kevin Burt, winner of a coveted international blues competition who recently was named an Iowan Hidden Gem by AARP.  Event meals will be provided to Academy students, with additional meals available for purchase from Willie Ray’s Q Shack food truck, owned by Willie Ray Fairley who has been recognized for donating thousands of free meals after the derecho in Eastern Iowa and then heading south to Texas to help feed people who lost power after a deadly snowstorm.

Students will share their dreams with community members who attend the event, creating opportunities for supportive conversations and mentorship. “On a practical level, students will learn about tree cultivation and help replace some trees lost during the derecho,” says Marti. “Well beyond this, they will have a visible reminder of the need to cultivate their dreams with the support of others — and enjoy the harvest.” 

The Academy teaches our students to make a place for themselves in this world by stretching themselves academically, using their voices, and articulating their dreams. What better way to demonstrate what The Academy can do for youth than to partner with an organization for which resilience is a key?” says Dr. White. “We hope that this is just the first of many mutually beneficial collaborations.” 

The event planners are enthusiastically inviting community members to support and attend the event, asking for both financial aid and in-kind help, such as lending shovels or volunteering at event stations. To volunteer, provide equipment, or financially support the event, please email us. Fundraising will be used to offset event costs and to support ongoing dream achievement programming being provided to students. For more information, visit the Plant Your Dreams event page.


About Worldmaker International

The nonprofit Worldmaker International helps the helpers create environments where all can thrive. The organization uses collaborative research and education to innovate solutions that grow human resilience. For more information, visit WorldmakerInternational.org.

About The Academy for Scholastic and Personal Success 

Founded over 30 years ago, The Academy for Scholastic and Personal Success is a nonprofit in Cedar Rapids, Iowa that teaches students of color using an understanding of African American culture as a keystone for academic achievement and positive behaviors. For more information, visit TheAcademySPS.com. 



Honoring a decade of work with deep roots and strong wings.

As a community resiliency project and national nonprofit building strength across America before, during and after traumatic disruptions, we planted deep roots.

Stepping forward to meet humanitarian needs without borders, we grew strong wings.

We now invite you to JOIN US at Worldmaker International.

There’s a place for you .