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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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DUBUQUE DREAM CENTER. The Dream Center was founded on July 23, 2013 by Robert Kimble, John Reeves of South Carolina, and Jay Schiesl to help strengthen the community in the downtown area of Dubuque. (1) Robert Kimble, Executive Director of the Dream Center, was a resident of Dubuque since 1989. Graduated in 1999 from EMMAUS BIBLE COLLEGE with a degree in Biblical Studies, he joined AmeriCorps Vista and served as Youth Coordinator in East Dubuque, Illinois from 2000-2002. He was then hired at the Dubuque Community Y as the Teen Outreach Coordinator from 2001-2004 and had responsibilities as Youth, Sports and Family Director at the Dubuque Community Y from 2004-2013. Kimble also served as the girl's high school and varsity basketball coach at DUBUQUE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL from 2005-2013. In 2015 he was the men's basketball coach at Emmaus Bible College. (2)

Located in the former ST. MARY'S CASINO at 1600 White Street, the Center initially served 35 boys. In 2015 with an expanded program, the Center served boys and girls and had a waiting list of 100 students. Established as a ministry of the RADIUS CHURCH DUBUQUE, the program was a social service and not a religious project according to the executive director. (3)

The students involved in the Center were referred by school officials. Following a model of "in-your-life-mentoring," volunteers formed relationships with students and their families. Activities included taking the students on outings, meeting them at school, and visiting their homes. Both the Center and the participating school gathered and analyzed test scores, grade reports, attendance and behavioral information to document student progress. (4)

In 2015 with Fulton Elementary and Jefferson Middle School its only partners, the Center had an aim within two years of partnering with six Dubuque schools to serve two hundred at-risk youth in kindergarten through eighth grade. It was also hoped that activities, leadership, and volunteer opportunities could be offered to high school students with support for their families with counseling, job-training and parenting services. In 2015 it cost between $1,500 and $2,000 per child to provide meals and programming. (5)


Financial support came from several sources. Donations made up 90% of the Center's budget. In November 2015, a $10,000 donation was received from The 100+Men Who Care: Tri-State Chapter. The Center was also partially supported by a Dubuque Community Schools Leadership Enrichment After-School 21st Century grant to support after school and summer tutoring programs. The District also donated twenty-eight desks for the Academic Center. The Dream Center was a member of My Brother's Keeper, a national program aimed at empowering at-risk youth and closing racial achievement gaps. (6)

A generous but anonymous donor in 2015 gave the Center two new school buses painted royal blue with the Dream Center logo. (7)

In 2019 the Dream Center urged the city council to make it a priority during the annual goal-setting session. Since its founding in 2013 the Center grew from serving twenty to thirty students to an enrollment of 180. This created wear on the facility which was not handicapped accessible. The basketball floor located on the top floor suffered from heat and humidity. To arouse community interest, the Center's staff sent out an email asking people to attend the council's August 5th meeting to promote the Center for the following year and ask for money from the city on a five-year period. In 2017 the Center received $10,700 from the city's purchase-of-services program. The same program supplied $10,200. The Center and the city partner annually on a summer camp at FOUR MOUNDS. While inviting council members to the Center and communicating with the council on its achievements, the 2019 appeal from the Center was its first approach to the council prior to goal-setting. The Center's work to alleviate POVERTY was seen as addressing one of the council's present goals. (8)

In July, 2020 city council members approved a $276,000 investment in the nonprofit dedicated to help the city's underprivileged and working poor at a time of nation recognition of racial inequality and injustice and a PANDEMIC. The money was in addition to $40,000 budget annually for the for the next two years to help finance the Center's activities and operations as the facility's staff works to become eligible for child-care assistance payments. (9)



1. Dream Center. Online: http://www.dubuquedreamcenter.com/the-dream.html

2. Ibid.

3. Barton, Thomas J. "A Dream Come True," Telegraph Herald, November 22, 2015, p. 6A

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Descorbeth, Shirley."Dubuque Dream Center Gets Generous Anonymous Donation," Nov. 30, 2015, KWWL.com Online: http://www.kwwl.com/story/30634074/2015/11/30/dubuque-dream-center-gets-generous-anonymous-donation

8. Fisher, Benjamin, "Dream Center Asks Supporters to Boost Its Bid for Aid From City," Telegraph Herald, July 24, 2019, p. 1A

9. Barton, Thomas J.,"Dream Center's $276,000 Boost Coming True," Telegraph Herald, July 11, 2020, p. 1A