Business

Youth sports program Dreeam Sports grows into mentorship model in Cedar Rapids

Kids, parents see there's 'more to life'

Brandon Jackson of Dreeam Sports hands out school supplies to neighborhood kids at Redmond Park in Cedar Rapids on Sunda
Brandon Jackson of Dreeam Sports hands out school supplies to neighborhood kids at Redmond Park in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
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Brandon Jackson has been coaching youth sports since he was a youth himself.

“I have been coaching for 20-plus years,” he said

“I started coaching when I was in seventh grade and it changed my life. I saw the impact I had on kids.”

Because of that influence, Jackson has spent many years working with youth sports organizations, but in recent years he kept hearing from parents who were having trouble affording the sign-up fees or to pay for the necessary equipment for children to participate.

“More and more parents started coming to me with needs and requests when I was working with these other organizations, but I wasn’t in the position to change anything for them,” Jackson said.

“So I decided, why not start an organization that focused more on the needs of the kids and parents to get them participating in sports.”

He did just that, creating Dreeam Sports in January 2019.

“We wanted to give kids from the community, especially those that might not be able to afford it, them the opportunity to play sports. We work to bridge the gap of signing more people up to play and also make sure all kids are able to enjoy the life skills that come with playing sports,” he said.

In his business model, Dreeam Sports partners with existing organizations to boost resources that are available and make it possible for more children to afford access to youth sports.

Jackson said he took an entrepreneurship class through GoDaddy before getting his organization off the ground that helped him better understand the business side of things and about operating a not-for-profit organization.

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“It can be challenging because I am a hands-on person and I’d rather just go out there and do the work,” he said.

“But I know I also have to try to secure funding to allow for services to happen. It’s been especially challenging to get funding during these times when small businesses are also facing their own challenges.”

But Jackson continues to look for ways for the organization step up to serve the community. When increased youth violence in the community started coming up in conversations, he decided his organization could help.

“Due to recent events with violence in the community, we also shifted toward a community mentorship program and an in-school mentorship program,” he said.

“All the kids look up to me when I coach them and mentor them, so I knew this was important. And we have a crisis in the community with some of these at-risk youth.”

Dreeam Sports has partnered with lots of other area organization for resources, funding and implementation, including the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Program, the Cedar Rapids Police Department, Juvenile Services and Four Oaks, among others.

Jackson said it helped that he was born and raised in Cedar Rapids.

“Growing up here, I developed a lot of great relationships in the community,” he said.

Jackson said the work being put in is rewarding.

“I love watching kids develop, especially them seeing that there is more to life, changing their normal routine, getting them out of negative environments, and seeing positivity come for them,” he said.

“They have hope in their eyes. You know when you put in the work that you’ll see smiles on their faces. And it’s not only the kids, but for these parents to see their kids turn around.

“It’s all well worth it and I enjoy every bit of that.”

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While the pandemic has limited in-person programming with both sports and mentorship, Jackson said he and the program’s volunteers are looking forward to getting back to serving the youth of the community. And Dreeam Sports continues to look for other ways to serve the community as well, such as hosting a backpack drive next week before the start of a new school year.

“And we continue to reach out to businesses and the city to bring as many hands as possible together to help provide mentorship for at-risk youth,” Jackson said.

“Now is the time to get kids active. We want them to be busy doing positive things.”

Know a small business based in the Corridor that could make an interesting “My Biz” feature? Let us know. Contact michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com.

Dreeam Sports

• Founder: Brandon Jackson

• Address: Cedar Rapids

• Phone: (319) 202-3207

• Website: futureyouthsports.com

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