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Community of Dreamers grant program returns for third consecutive year


American Family Insurance and American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation to again invest in non-profit organizations nominated by customers. Nominations open today, Sept. 9.

In 2017, in honor of American Family’s 90th anniversary, the Community of Dreamers program was created. In that year, $3,000 donations to 90 different nominated non-profit organizations were distributed.

The program returned in 2018 with 250 organizations nominated by customers awarded $1,000 each.

American Family Insurance and American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation will continue to invest in our Community of Dreamers in 2019, this time awarding 100 $2,500 donations to deserving charitable organizations nominated by customers.

Any American Family customer (including American Family employees and agents), are eligible to nominate a favorite organization. Organizations nominated should review this FAQ document for guidelines.

One recipient’s story: Catherine McAuley Center – Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The Catherine McAuley Center was a recipient of a Community of Dreamers donation in 2018.

Catherine McAuley, an Irish Catholic laywoman who lived in Ireland, founded the Sisters of Mercy order in 1831 and dedicated her life to educating women and helping others in need. She believed education was the key to fighting poverty.

In 1989 a group of Sisters from this order in Cedar Rapids established the Catherine McAuley Center and named it after their foundress. Their goal was – and 30 years later still is – to promote the well-being and dignity of adults in need, just as Catherine did, and to make communities more inclusive, supportive and welcoming for all.

Donation supports adult basic education and English as a Second Language

The Community of Dreamers donation was used to support the adult basic education program. More than 400 volunteer tutors commit time each week to help any adult learner who comes to the Center wanting to learn English as a Second Language, or improve academic skills up to a tenth-grade level. More than 90% of students at the center come to learn English and/or study for their citizenship exam. The Center serves a surprisingly diverse population in Eastern Iowa, with students representing 50 different countries.

Interested adults go through an assessment with staff and are then matched with a volunteer tutor. All volunteers go through an orientation and additional training to learn how to effectively structure lessons. Volunteers include adults of all ages, including college students, professionals and retirees.

Students are welcome to continue receiving tutoring until they reach the tenth-grade level, when their personal goals have been met, or when circumstances such as a job change occur. The average time spent with the Center is 2-2½ years.

The backgrounds of the students are as diverse as their native countries. Some already have advanced degrees in their home country, some have no formal education at all, and some are learning to read for the first time – in any language. Others want to alleviate the responsibility of their children having to serve as translators. Others seek new or improved employment and know English is often a requirement.

Here are only a few of the positive outcomes from the program:

  • 86% of students reported understanding more when people speak English to them
  • 72% of students read more with their children at home since beginning classes
  • 70% of students communicate more with their children's teachers since beginning classes

“American Family's Community of Dreamers donation has provided valuable support for our Adult Basic Education program, for which there are limited funding opportunities,” said Paula Land, Catherine McAuley Center executive director. “Because of this American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation donation, we were able to provide books and learning materials for students, as well as provide ongoing training for our team of more than 400 volunteer tutors.

”“We are grateful that with this financial support, the adult learners we serve from more than 50 countries are not only gaining confidence in skills like English as a Second Language, but are also forming valuable connections with the wider community,” said Land.

In addition to the adult basic education program, learn more about the services offered at the Catherine McAuley Center, including transitional housing for women and refugee resettlement.

Nominations open today

Nominations open today, Monday, Sept. 9, and close at 5 p.m. (CST) on Thursday, Sept. 19. Donation recipients will be announced on Wednesday, Oct. 23.

The Community of Dreamers donation program is in addition to the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation’s twice-yearly grant program.

American Family Insurance customers interested in nominating an organization can find the nomination form at

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About American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation
The American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation, Inc. builds on our long-standing commitment and support of our communities. As our mission has evolved from corporate giving to community investing, we’ve turned our focus to creating strong partnerships with nonprofit organizations that have helped us strengthen both families and communities. For more information, see the Making a Difference page of or the Community Investment page of the Newsroom.

About American Family Insurance
Madison, Wisconsin-based American Family Insurance group is the nation's 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group and ranks No. 306 on the Fortune 500 list. The company sells American Family-brand products, including auto, homeowners, life, business and farm/ranch insurance, primarily through its exclusive agents in 19 states. American Family affiliates (The General and Homesite) also provide options for consumers who want to manage their insurance matters directly over the internet or by phone. Affiliate Main Street America sells insurance products through independent agents. Web:; Facebook; Twitter