Meet the Team
Tori graduated from the University of San Diego in 2001, receiving a bachelor’s degree in English and minoring in psychology and sociology. She attended Notre Dame de Namur University to obtain her California teaching credential and a master’s degree in English, with an emphasis in creative writing. She also has a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the University of San Francisco. Post-college, she spent 10 years in education, mostly teaching middle school English and math. She is currently on the board of directors of Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area. From 2009 to 2019, she served as the President of the Burns Family Foundation, a private foundation which provides financial support to local 501c3 non-profits organizations, typically those that focus on youth education and sports. She previously sat on the board of directors for Palcare Child Care Center.
Erica graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in Clinical Psychology. Before co-founding Dreams33, Erica worked for thirteen years developing programs for the homeless, battered women, and low-income. She served as Director of Housing Services working to break the cycle of homelessness. Her focus was to create paths for the underserved to find stability and personal growth. Erica also spent four years as the Executive Director of the Fremont Union High School Foundation, before leaving to raise her three children. Over the last six years, Erica has also served her community as Fundraising Chair for both Redwood City Little League and a local elementary school.
“After my years working with the homeless population, I realized my passion would be better served trying to break the cycle earlier. Many foster youth today are struggling through so much that they can’t imagine having dreams to strive for. Whatever circumstances put them in foster care should not define their worth and their future. Every child needs someone to remind them their dreams are possible. Dreams33 believes a good education is a door to a better independent future and we want to help make that possible for every child.”
Steve graduated from San Francisco State University in 2000 with a degree in broadcasting. He currently sits on the board of directors of Unravel Pediatric Cancer Foundation and is a member of the committee on athletics at San Francisco State University. He also previously served as an advisor to the Burns Family Foundation. Steve’s interest in Dreams33 lies in his belief that every child, regardless of circumstance and background, should have every opportunity to further their education and be able to achieve the life they want. He truly believes that Dreams33 will benefit the population of foster youth by providing them with the resources and opportunities that may not otherwise be available to them.
Samantha graduated from University of San Francisco in 2014 with a degree in kinesiology. After working in schools for three years, she returned to graduate school at Fordham University, graduating with an MSW in spring 2020. Dreams33 Foundation will be the first board on which she sits. When asked why she is interested in serving on the board of Dreams33, Sam replied, “As I have gained perspective thus far in my life, I learned how privileged I have been to have consistency and stability in my financials, educational experience, and housing. The resources available to me allowed me to transition into adulthood while feeling safe and secure. There is an opportunity gap that exists for youth who transition out of the foster care system. I know that many young people who are transitioning into adulthood did not have the supports I did, but do have an incredible potential for success. I hope that in my time with Dreams 33 I am able to watch this organization work hard to lessen that opportunity gap. I think that Dreams 33 has the potential to be an organization that empowers and lifts-up the foster care community. I believe it can grow through collaboration with this community, not just to serve it, but to work in tandem with those who have insight and understandings that will help build positive programming and support systems for so many young people.”
Jon received his B.A. from Santa Clara University in Economics. In 2011 he founded an Investment Advisory firm (Riley Friedman Asset Management) that primarily serves individual investors. As an active member of the community he volunteers for several organizations. In addition to the Foundation, he serves on the Member Advisory Group of Star One Credit Union, is an officer of ICF Branch 47, and is on the School Advisory Council of Saint Joseph Mountain View. Jon decided to join the Dreams33 board because he was moved by an event he attended a few years ago, held by Pivotal. Hearing the stories of the difficult path many foster children face was truly eye opening for him and after the event he realized he wanted to be part of helping youth in similar positions change their lives. Jon’s goal for Dreams33 is to helping to provide the education and resources foster youth need to reach their full potential.
Who we are
Erica and Tori met in 2000 and have spent many nights dreaming about ways they could, together, make a difference in the world. Finally, in 2016 Tori read an article in People Magazine about a young woman graduating from USC who had been in the foster care system. The article stated that 3% of foster youth graduated college. Upon reading this, Tori called Erica and said “I found our nonprofit, 3% is simply not enough.” And from that moment, Dreams33 was born.
At Dreams33 we strive to make the dreams of youth in foster care come true through helping them to further their education. The number 33 is significant as it was Tori’s dad’s lucky number. Without him, Dreams33 would be only a dream in Tori and Erica’s head.
What is Dreams33?
Dreams33 is a private 501(c)3 that grants educational grants to students in college who are either currently or formerly a part of the foster care system. Our goal is to ensure the full funding of each scholar’s college experience, allowing them to focus on learning and growing. Therefore each grant is custom-designed to each student. Once accepted as a Dreams33 scholar, a student is enrolled in our program for the remainder of their educational journey, as long as they are actively enrolled in school and in good standing. We welcome current college students, as well as graduating high school students, to apply at this time.
LOW EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT
4% of foster youth hold a college degree by age 26, as compared with 36% of the general population.
Number of Youth in Foster Care
Over 437,000 children and youth are in foster care
At age 21, 34% of young women in foster care will be custodial parents are compared to 13% of the general population.
What Dreams33 provides
Dreams33 provides financial assistance for Foster children who are dedicated to their education. Providing resources, tutors, living expenses and other services to these young minds gives at-risk children a path to success.
LIVING EXPENSES WHILE IN SCHOOL