Updated: Oct 31, 2019
Why you should know him: Frederick Newell, 26, of Iowa City, is the executive director and founder of The Dream Center, an Iowa City-based community organization that strengthens and empowers families through programs directed at fathers and youth. The Dream Center hosts the popular Youth Leadership Academy and The Fatherhood Academy, as well the new Performance Arts Academy which build skills such as respect, self-esteem and personal development. Newell grew up in Chicago, but moved to Iowa City to earn his undergraduate degree in Social Work at the University of Iowa while a single father. He went to work for Systems Unlimited, Four Oaks and the Department of Human Services, where he advocates for underserved and minority families. Newell recently welcomed his fifth child.
I opened The Dream Center because: Many different reasons. One of the major reasons was growing up in the city of Chicago, I always knew I wanted to give back to my community, but one of the things I really struggled with as a college student was there was no support for me as a single father. I felt there were so many programs for young women and mothers, but there was nothing looking at development for young men to adult men.
One obstacle I see facing young men in Iowa City today is: When you start talking about minority men growing up, there are just not enough role models in our community. A lot of young men aspire to be what they see on TV, and I'm not trying to downplay that you can't become a rapper or whatever, but only about 1 percent of men actually make it. ... I want them to want to be more than just a rapper and a ball player. I want them to go after career jobs like doctors and lawyers and teachers.
The Dream Center's slogan is: Dream, believe, achieve. One of the things is I'm a huge believer that dreams can be achieved, and one of the first things I started teaching was we had all of the youth and families involved write down what their dream would be and how they would achieve it. Once you believe you can do it, and you put all your work and dedication into it, you can do it.
One of my future goals for The Dream Center is: Really to make an impact and not just on the southeast side, but the entire Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area. It is my goal to eventually become a statewide organization.
The most important thing I want people to know about The Dream Center is: We're not just an organization saying that we're trying. We're strengthening kids, and these kids are going to college, families are staying out of the DHS and criminal justice systems, and we're really a part of the community in Iowa City.