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For the past decade, 5Point has been investing in the best teenage dreams, and it’s already paying back dividends.

In 2016, the Dream Project covered Bridges High Schooler Hannah Hayden’s 15-day trip to Peru to help poor, rural kids at a federal school.“I definitely wouldn’t be the same person I am today without it. Being somewhere that you’ve never been, speaking a language you’re not super familiar as an 18-year-old alone, you learn so much about yourself and how lucky you really are and what a chance you have to help other people,” she said. “It changed my own character and confidence. I try to volunteer where I can when I can and with things that resonate with me.”

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Since completing his Capstone Project with a 2017 Dream Project-funded camera, Roaring Fork High School grad Cal Branigan has gone on to the Colorado Film School and is even getting ready to submit his own material to 5Point. “I’ve taken that camera to Africa, all across the U.S., I use it frequently in film school even today,” he said. “I have heard from a lot of people that the quality of that film was a bit beyond my years. I know that it would not have been that level without that gear.”

Both past recipients encouraged anyone with an idea to apply. Branigan, in particular, preached patience — he applied twice before he found a project that resonated, which he put down to a bigger purpose.

Then there’s Colorado Rocky Mountain School junior Chloe Gonzales who, after receiving Dream Project support for a trip to Mexico in 2018, teamed up with two friends for another round this year.  She and her classmates Eli Li and Sarah Teague will travel to Denver and Washington D.C. as soon as school is out to connect with folks affected by homelessness and poverty and those working to help them.

The girls have already talked the talk to their classmates, and are even preparing to launch a social-issues magazine titled “The Olive Branch” in print and online in order to support the exchange of such ideas. But the Dream Project outing will lend their mission additional legitimacy.

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“It’s not just the money; it’s this amazing audience,” Teague said. “This gives us hard proof that what we’re saying is important.”

Of course, the financial backing also gives them an opportunity to take things to the next level.

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“It’s being able to get out into the field and apply what we’ve learned,” Li said. “It’s important for me to share everything I’m given with those around me and the rest of the world. A huge component of our application was our different backgrounds and how our vision brought us together.”

Teague is a Roaring Fork Valley native, Gonzales grew up in a Mexican-American household in Southern California and Li hails from Hong Kong. They each bring different strengths and perspectives to the project, but they’re well aware that there are still blind spots.

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“It’s something we don’t see right in front of us,” Gonzales said. “The school and, to some extent, the community is a bubble of privilege.”

“We know that it’s a huge issue, but it’s hard to figure out how to tackle it,” added Teague, “It’s both trying to get them to empathize with the problem and give them an outlet.”

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And that’s just one of the projects selected for funding this year. Roaring Fork High School junior Beverly Patton is planning to share her love of poetry by teaching a weekly class to local middle schoolers. “I’ve always loved learning new things and then teaching them to others or even just telling others about it,” she explained. ““Developing a one on one relationship with a younger generation and creating something with them, means a whole lot more to me then wondering whether or not anyone read my book. This way, face to face, poet to poet, we get to really hear each other.”

Ella Beck, a senior at CRMS, will travel to Nepal to work with the Oda Foundation’s Women’s Empowerment Team. Basalt High School sophomore Isaac Musselman is planning to create an aviation and space club complete with guest speakers, astronomy nights, and curriculum tie-ins. A cello will help BHS senior Emily Northrop pursue her dream of becoming a music educator, junior Carla Soto will travel to El Paso to tackle imigration issues through photography and Glenwood Springs High School junior Molly Hancock will channel her love of horses into a documentary about the Riding Institute for Disabled Equestrians.

The full lineup will have a chance to present at 5Point Thursday night.

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