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The Dreamer Girls Project was conceptualized first as a nonprofit organization in 2010 after the death of my father, Mr. Isaiah Opara. I lost my mom 7 years prior to losing my dad so their deaths left me heartbroken, lonely, and confused. Fortunately, leaning on support from my friends, family, and relying on my relationship with God, I was able to begin my path to healing. The loss of my parents at such young ages inspired me to create a program specifically for Black girls. This is how The Dreamer Girls Project was born.

I want to provide support and empower Black girls, especially those who had experienced challenges at a young age. Overall, I want to make young Black girls feel like they can dream and soar to the highest heights, despite life difficulties. 

The Dreamer Girls Project includes two areas: Research and Philanthropy. 

Research

The first area focuses on research on sexual health and drug use prevention for Black girls. The Dreamer Girls Project received pilot study funding in 2019 from National Institute on Mental Health through a HIV education grant housed at Yale School of Public Health to support early career scientists who are conducting HIV-related work. The research focus of The Dreamer Girls Project includes interviewing Black teen girls from across the nation to understand risk and protective factors to using drugs and sexual risk behavior, understanding how racism and sexism impacts behavior and using findings to develop a HIV, STI, and drug use prevention program for Black girls.

 

Since its launch, the project has recruited over thirty-five (35) Black teen girls to participate in through study through focus group interviews who have provided great information on what they would like to see in a prevention program while also detailing challenges that they have witnessed just from existing as aBlack girl in the U.S. It also now has an advisory board of eight (8) ambitious and brilliant Black girls from all over the country. The Dreamer Girls Project prevention program will be designed for Black girls, BY Black girls and is dedicated to creating lasting positive impact on them.

Philanthropy and community service

 

My first act of service will be the launching of the 2022 Black Teen Girls Scholarship.

My father always told me, “Whatever you do, be the best at it. Get the highest degrees you possibly can, just as long as you love what you do”. Although my father wasn’t able to witness me achieve what he prophesied, I know I can still honor his memory by passing on the support he gave me. My goal is to give back to Black teen girls, to support their great ideas and encourage them to go to college. I want to equip them with the confidence and tools they need to have a great start in college. I hope this Black Teen Girls Scholarship will only be the beginning of many educational, practical and empowering programs to come for Black girls.

 

As a New Jersey native, I will be awarding $500 each to two Black girls in NJ who are attending college in Fall 2022 and can come up with a great idea in preventing HIV, drug use among Black girls that we can use for my project, The Dreamer Girls Project. This money comes directly from me as a way to give back to Black girls. Improving the health of Black girls is a goal of mine and I want to support a girl who is passionate but also wants to be a part of the solution for Black girls.

Who can apply?

  • Identify as Black and female

  • Be a high school senior that is attending college in the U.S. in Fall 2022

  • Live in New Jersey, USA

  • Attend high school in New Jersey

 

To apply, email the following documents:

  • Download and complete the application form here

  • Provide a 1-page statement answer to this question: Describe what you think would be the best way to prevent HIV, STIs and drug use for Black girls in the United States.

  • Official acceptance letter from college/university that you will be attending in Fall 2022

  • A headshot

 

Email your completed application to: thesashlab@yale.edu with the subject: BLACK TEEN GIRL SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATION

Applicants will be judged based on the best innovative ideas for preventing HIV, STI, and drug use in Black girls. 

Deadline to apply is May 15, 2022. Decisions will be announced early to mid-June 2022. 

***To accept the award, you must agree to share your name and photo for the award announcement and marketing purposes

The Black Teen Girls Scholarship is not funded or affiliated with the National Institutes of Health and is solely funded by Dr. Opara as a charitable donation through the philanthropy division of The Dreamer Girls Project. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Ijeoma Opara

Daughter of Black Immigrants and Lover of Education

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