"I Have a Dream" Foundation of Boulder County
5390 Manhattan Circle, Suite 200 | Boulder, Colorado 80303 |  303-444-3636 |  www.ihaveadreamboulder.org 
For Immediate Release: April 9, 2017
Lori Canova, CEO
303-444-3636 x16 | 303-669-8831
"I Have a Dream" National Foundation Founder Eugene M. Lang Dies at 98 

"I Have a Dream's"  inspiring and enthusiastic founder, Eugene Lang, seen here in a Daily Camera photo taken during his visit to Boulder County's "I Have a Dream" program in 2011,
passed away on April 8, 2017 at the age of 98.

Boulder - April 9, 2017: It's with a heavy heart that "I Have a Dream" Foundation of Boulder County announces the passing of the National "I Have a Dream" founder, Eugene Lang. Lang, who just celebrated his 98th birthday on March 16, passed away peacefully in his home with family on April 8.
Eugene Lang launched the "I Have a Dream" model in 1981 on impulse. He had returned to the elementary school he attended in East Harlem, P.S. 121, and was giving a speech to sixth graders. As he took the stage that day, the Principal mentioned that only 25% of the class would likely graduate high school. The businessman changed his speech on the spot and promised each of the youth a scholarship for college if they graduated high school --- with this promise, and the support of Lang, the first program director and volunteers, 90% of that class did graduate high school and 60% went on to college.
Since then, more than 200 "I Have a Dream" programs have existed around the country and in New Zealand. The concept -- to provide academic and mentoring support to low-income youth with the promise of a post-secondary scholarship -- was popularized by a front page story in the New York Times in 1985, and a segment on 60 Minutes in 1986. There have been 16,000 Dreamers since the first class began in 1981, all supported in a success that might have otherwise alluded them if not for this man, Eugene Lang, and his bold promise back in 1981.
The "I Have a Dream" Foundation in Boulder County affiliate launched in 1990, after local philanthropists Bob & Diane Greenlee, KBCO-FM founders, learned about the Dreamer model from Brenda Lyle. Motivated by the area's dismal 35% graduation rate for low-income youth, they sponsored the first Boulder County Dreamer Class with youth from the Boulder's San Juan del Centro housing site. Those Dreamers graduated in 1998, and since then the local affiliate has launched 17 more Dreamer Classes thanks to philanthropists who have followed Eugene Lang and the Greenlee's lead, serving more than 1,000 youth in Boulder County, with 90% graduating from high school and 85% going to college with scholarship support.

Eugene Lang joins Boulder County Dreamers in reading the Dreamer Pledge at "I Have a Dream" Foundation of Boulder County's Dream-Maker Luncheon in 2011. 
In 2011, Eugene Lang visited the "I Have a Dream" program and was the honored guest at our annual Dream-Maker Luncheon. He observed, humbly, his own impact on that visit in 2011 in a letter to the Boulder County Community: 
"The dedication of these 'I Have a Dream' Foundation Sponsors has provided our most compelling dynamic - the confidence that Dreamers develop when they realize that their Sponsors are truly committed to identifying and promoting their aspirations - that the Dreamer-Sponsor relationship is personal, caring, inclusionary, and sustained - that, as we insisted from the beginning, 'Once a Dreamer always a Dreamer!' .... Our country needs more Dreamers, and prospective Dreamers
need all of us. I am profoundly grateful to so many wonderful people, now dear friends, whose programs have enriched the lives of their Dreamers and, in doing so, enriched their own."
After the visit of then 92-year-old Lang, we shared the Daily Camera article and impact of his visit with his daughter Jane Lang who wrote us: 
"Thank you so much for sending the article about my father's visit to Boulder, and the news about the success of the event. I can tell you that he was thrilled -- and remains ebullient! -- by the trip and the extraordinary reception you and your colleagues gave him. He couldn't stop talking about how unique the Boulder program is and how genuine and committed the whole community is to "I Have a Dream".  It is everything he ever wished for the program to be."
The "I Have a Dream" program is grieving his loss.
Eugene Lang is a "giant in the world of education, a champion of the liberal arts, and an acknowledged force in promoting civic and social responsibility among students, faculties, and educational institutions," according to Swarthmore College. Born of immigrant parents in 1919, he started college at the age of 15 and after graduating from Swarthmore College, he became a  "self-made businessman" who led REFAC Technology Development Corporation. He created an endowment to establish the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility at Swarthmore College, among many other gifts to the school; founder of Project Pericles, a national organization of colleges and universities working to encourage and facilitate inclusion of education for social responsibility and participatory citizenship as an essential part of their educational programs, and of course is the founder of "I Have a Dream" Foundation. He has received the  Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient from  President Bill Clinton and was a "Point of Light" designee of President George H.W. Bush. He is the  recipient of some 41 honorary degrees, member of numerous boards, and served as a  Torch Bearer for the 1996 Olympic Games.

Lang married Theresa Volmar in 1946. They were married for 62 years until her death in 2008. They had three children, Jane, David and Stephen (Kristina) Lang; eight grandchildren (Jessica, Benjamin, Lucy, Daniel, Noah, Grace, Joanna and Jacob), and eight great-grandchildren (Tom, Erin and Evelyn Kosa, Alexander, May 
and Theodore Gene Alamar, and Isaiah and Theresa Asher). He is mourned as well by his sister Barbara Lang, his cousin Helen Lang Suskin (Steven), dear friends Harriet and Paul Kittay, Lauren McGrail, Executive Director of the Eugene M. Lang Foundation and Jan Liss, Executive Director of Project Pericles, scores of 'original' Dreamers and Lang Scholars, and his dedicated caretakers.
See his New York Times obituary. A funeral service will be held at Congregation Emanu-El of New York on April 12, 2017 at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to any of the many organizations Mr. Lang supported. 
About the "I Have a Dream" Foundation of Boulder County 
Since 1990, the award-winning "I Have a Dream" Foundation of Boulder County has assisted 1,000 children from low-income areas in achieving their education and career goals by providing long-term personal and academic support, tutoring, mentoring and four-year tuition-assistance scholarships to each graduating student. The program follows the national model established in New York in 1981 by founder Eugene Lang. The organization sponsors entire groups of students from elementary schools, or from low-income housing sites, and works with these children and their families through high school graduation and into post-high school education. "I Have a Dream" Boulder County has doubled expected graduation rates for those in its program and has awarded over $2 million in scholarships to date. Currently, there are 10 active "I Have a Dream" classes in Boulder Valley and St. Vrain Valley school districts . Learn more...