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San Diego: Attaining Dreams of Change


Dreams for Change was founded in May 2009 by Dr. Teresa Smith to serve the needs of families and individuals who were struggling as a result of the recession’s economic downturn.

Since then, it has pioneered countless cost-effective interventions that stabilize the lives of thousands of individuals experiencing homelessness and other low-income individuals.

Historically, San Diego County has had one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country. Over the past year, it has seen a surge in numbers as more people have been affected by the economic impacts of the continued pandemic. While providing shelter is an important first step to addressing this problem, other interventions–such as providing education, training, and employment assistance–are key to sustained self-sufficiency and housing stability. 

Since 2009, Dreams for Change in San Diego has been pioneering cost-effective interventions that stabilize the lives of thousands of individuals experiencing homelessness and other low-income individuals. WE is proud to support its Dreams’ Cuisine program. 

Dreams’ Cuisine is a paid on-the-job training program that teaches individuals facing significant barriers to employment how to operate food trucks serving healthy meals to people experiencing homelessness and low-income senior communities. Learning to operate the food trucks provides participants with basic culinary skills and strengthens soft skills (e.g., reliability, teamwork, customer service, conflict management) that are necessary for obtaining and sustaining mainstream employment. Their skills can be applied to business management and jobs in the culinary and food service sectors. Additionally, participants attend virtual weekly classes covering four key, comprehensive areas: financial literacy, mental health awareness/emotional literacy, conflict management, and resume and interview coaching. 

WE’s funding enables the women participating in this program to receive stipends for their job training and work on the food trucks. Dreams’ Cuisine represents a viable and innovative approach to an entrenched local challenge of homelessness and helps to break the cycle of poverty for the program participants.

By offering short-term, transitional employment coupled with work readiness and life skills training, the Dreams’ Cuisine program empowers program participants and helps to overcome barriers to secure:

  • occupational training
  • educational opportunities
  • competitive, mainstream, long-term employment

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