Common Ground Foundation
Dreamers and Believers Summer Youth Camp
“I started the Common Ground Foundation because I wanted to help. Most of all help people to help themselves.” – Common
More than 10 years ago, Common committed his time and resources to help inner-city youth in his hometown of Chicago. His work reaches high school students through mentoring and college preparation programs. Common Ground Foundations’s (CGF) focus areas are nutrition and healthy living, financial literacy, character development, and creative expression.
Common’s commitment to the foundation is both in spirit and deed as he donates significant time and resources to the organization. He also takes time to talk to youth across the country to keep inspiring them to dream beyond their circumstances.
Each year, students participating in the programs have the opportunity to attend a one-week summer camp, which combines the teaching of the CGF’s core curriculum with team building activities and various sporting events outside of the city of Chicago. The students also have the chance to be creative and innovative while forming lasting relationships with their peers.
We were initially approached by Common Ground Foundation to provide guidance around arts programming with their newly formed initiative the Dreamers & Believers Summer Youth Camp. CGF’s plan was to offer African dance and music, photography, healthy living and eating, and theater and drama as arts and wellness activities for the youth while attending camp in Wisconsin. They also wanted each of the arts activities to be connected and centered around a unifying theme that could culminate once they were back in Chicago for a performance for their parents and friends that showed what they learned during their time spent at camp.
The process began by searching for talented arts instructors that could dedicate their time and resources. The next step was to plan and create a curriculum for each arts discipline that was precise, engaging, and would be cohesive. We worked diligently with the Executive Director and Camp Director prior to going to camp to work out all of the necessary logistics and to have plans approved.
We were able to achieve the Foundation’s goals of recruiting and organizing, the arts instructors along with planning and writing the arts programming curriculum. We not only worked with the students at camp, but was able to establish an enduring relationship. The arts instructors that were selected also participated in the Common Ground Foundation’s mentoring initiative that was established soon after the first year of the camp.
Working with Common Ground Foundation has allowed us to have a meaningful impact on some of the youth in Chicago and we have been able to watch the inaugural class go through high school, graduate, and enter college. Many of those students have overcome some challenges and are serving their communities and accomplishing their goals.