The DREAM Project is a nonprofit organization that is working to improve the Dominican Republic. More than a million children live in poverty in the Dominican Republic. About 578,000 children younger than 15 are living without parental care and about 20 percent of them are orphans. DREAM provides more than 1 million hours of education to more than 8,000 children across 27 communities in the Dominican Republic. DREAM just held its eighth annual benefit on February 27, 2020, to raise money to keep operating its education programs. Gathering at The Mezzanine in New York City, New York, was the star-studded invitee list. Here are 10 celebrities who attended the DREAM’s eighth annual benefit to promote children’s education.
10 Celebrities Who Attended DREAM’s 8th Annual Benefit
- Solly Duran: Most know the “Orange is the New Black” star for her role as the outlandish Araceli, but she stole the show at DREAM’s eighth annual benefit with a group of Dominican women including Katherine Castro (“The Summoning”) and CEO and activist Carolina Contreras (Miss Rizos Salón, New York City). Born in the Dominican Republic, the actor and producer is continuing to support efforts that will help make education accessible for all by raising money for DREAM’s programs. She encouraged others to purchase tickets to support the benefit or to donate through DREAM’s website.
- Taye Diggs: People know Diggs for his roles as Benjamin Coffin III in “Rent” on Broadway and Dr. Sam Bennett in “Private Practice” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Diggs was one of the celebrity guests who attended DREAM’s 2020 benefit. Additionally, he acted as the host. DREAM is not the only philanthropic interest of Diggs. He is also active in fighting AIDS and HIV with the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
- Katherine Castro: “Reinbou” and “American Violence” star joined Duran and others to celebrate independent Dominican women. Born in the Dominican Republic, her family’s support of her artistic dreams and the dance classes she took helped mold her into the successful woman she is today. She went to the 2020 benefit in support of the Dominican’s most vulnerable populations, who often do not obtain the supportive family and education she received.
- Chef Kelvin Fernandez: Many may know Fernandez as Chef Kelvin on the Food Network. The culinary star was one of the night’s personalities who showed up to support the improvement of the accessibility of education in the Dominican Republic. Fernandez spoke about growing up poor; he is the child of two Dominican immigrants. He also talked about his appreciation that his parents worked to give him the opportunities to pursue his passion.
- Tony Peralta: Peralta is a contemporary artist and first-generation Dominican with heavy influence. Peralta’s finds inspiration in his enthusiasm for exploring his Dominican-American identity through his art and focuses on blackness within the Dominican identity. The Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in DC has shown his pieces.
- Shane Evans: The author and illustrator has published more than 35 children’s books, including “We March” and “Chocolate Me!” His works explore black identity and serve to empower black children with his thoughtful, relevant stories and vibrant pictures. His travels all over the world are some of the biggest influences on his work. Laura Bush honored Evans in 2002 at the National Book Festival. Evans also illustrated for the book “Osceola: Memories of a Sharecropper’s Daughter,” which won The Orbus Pictus Award for Outstanding Non-Fiction for Children. He runs a community art space called Dream Studio in Kansas City, Missouri.
- Doug Wimbish: The Living Colour and Tackhead bassist also attended the 2020 benefit. Wimbish has a history of playing for charity events and raising money, having played to raise money for The NAMM Foundation in 2016. In his successful musical endeavors, Wimbish takes it upon himself to use his good fortune and skill to raise money that will allow disadvantaged children the opportunity to hone their skills and find their passions through education.
- Albania Rosario: Born in the Dominican Republic, Rosario is the Founder and Creative Director of Uptown Fashion Week. She moved to New York when she was 18 to pursue higher education. She strives to merge her artistic passions with her desire to help her community.
- Arlette Borrelly: Borrelly is a Dominican-born radio personality and TV producer from 93.1 La Mega “La Bodega de la Mañana.” It is a comedy show on a contemporary Spanish radio channel that specializes in reggaeton, bachata and love songs.
- Esther Céspedes: In 2019, Céspedes showed her Dominican pride when she won Miss República Dominicana U.S. In 2020, she showed her pride by supporting the DREAM Project at its annual benefit. Miss República Dominicana U.S. strives to crown intelligent women who are ready to support and represent their community. Céspedes embodied this as she showed up to empower underprivileged Dominican children.
All proceeds went towards DREAM’s Early Childhood Education and At-Risk Youth and Development programs. DREAM’s programs focus on children between the ages of 2 and 7, using Montessori methods instead of traditional teaching ones. In addition, they help with birth registration and parent education. Thanks to these programs, families can learn new techniques to use at home with their children, extending the education past the walls of the classroom.
– Catherine Lin