U.S. Department of Education Official to Deliver "I Have a Dream" High School Commencement Address at Clark Elementary School in Charlottesville, VA

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William Jawando, deputy director of strategic partnerships, will participate in the "I Have a Dream" high school graduation ceremony at Clark Elementary School in Charlottesville on Thursday, May 31. Jawando will commend the students, who began their academic journey at Clark Elementary, on their accomplishments, encourage them to continue on to higher education and training, and give back through helping others.

The "I Have a Dream" movement began in 1981 when New York City businessman Eugene Lang offered to pay the college tuition of East Harlem Elementary School students who graduated from high school. Having made that promise, Lang mobilized a variety of people and resources to support the children through their school careers. He called his effort "I Have a Dream."

The National "I Have a Dream" Foundation, founded in 1986, has carried Lang's vision across the United States. Almost 20 years after Lang made his promise, two local businessmen, Chris Poe and Jeff Gaffney, teamed up to bring the "I Have a Dream" model to Charlottesville. In 2000, they announced their sponsorship of the kindergarten class at Clark Elementary School. Poe and Gaffney put into place a year-round system of support services to help the Dreamers, now seniors, excel academically and socially. Jawando will commend these graduates on Thursday evening.