The 2011 Disney’s Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine continues a mission to annually bring together 100 high school students who want to ignite their lives, dreams and passions. However, the March 3-6 event at Walt Disney World Resort also will serve as a “make-up class” for some teens selected for the 2010 Academy — which they were unable to attend due to winter-weather travel cancellations.

Combined with the high school students from 22 states and the District of Columbia selected for 2011, the class register this year has 110 names on it, making it the largest in the four years of the program.

The program also has grown in other ways, including the participation of Essence Magazine for the first time and of Coca-Cola as an official sponsor, sharing its “Open Happiness” program with the students and hosting several networking events during the weekend.

Essence Communications President Michelle Ebanks said, “Disney’s Dreamers Academy ignites dreams and lives, and we are happy to share in this moment.”

Tracey Walters-Powell, executive champion of the program for Disney Parks & Resorts, said, “Disney’s Dreamers Academy provides a platform to propel dreams. Disney Parks, Essence Communications and Steve Harvey all share the same vision, to inspire and motivate youth.”

Steve Harvey and Mickey Mouse

© Copyright Disney

“The children are our future, and they all deserve an equal opportunity to achieve their dreams,” Steve Harvey said. “Disney’s Dreamers Academy unlocks the power that allows people to pursue their hearts’ desires.”

It will be a watershed year as the students, selected from among thousands of applicants across the country, embark on customized itineraries based on their individual interests and aspirations. During hands-on experiences, they will explore a world of career options — from animation, through entrepreneurship, to zoology. They’ll be engaged with motivational speakers, Disney experts and celebrities — each with a special talent and an individual life story.

The Academy’s curriculum includes more than 20 personalized and interactive workshops such as:


  • Sports Careers/Broadcasting: Dreamers will spend time with very special guests from ESPN: The Weekend at Disney’s Hollywood Studios including Superstar athletes Chad OchoCinco, Cal Ripken Jr. and Alonzo Mourning.
  • Marine Biology: Dreamers dive deep into the world of marine life at Disney’s 5.7 million gallon aquarium, The Seas with Nemo and Friends attraction, unveiling the beauty of life under the sea and how to care for it.
  • Entertainment: Dreamers experience the audition process for American Idol as Ruben Studdard and Kimberley Locke take them inside the American Idol Experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • Language/International Studies: Dreamers meet with representatives from the Walt Disney World International Studies program, as well as students from other countries working in the international pavilions at Epcot.

Award-winning Gospel music icon Yolanda Adams opens the weekend of events, and Disney sensation and TV star Raven Symone will provide the keynote speech. Symone, already a famous actress and singer at 25, started her career on the Cosby show and went on to land her own popular Disney sit-com, That’s So Raven. She has been featured in several major motion pictures and has written, produced and performed music listed on theBillboard 200 list. The young multi-million dollar mogul continues to grow her empire outside of the entertainment industry as she also runs her own clothing and perfume lines.

Other celebrity guests include BET’s “106 and Park” host Terrence J, Disney Channel’s “Camp Rock” star Roshon Fegan, actors Chris Massey and Tamera Mowry.

Participants for the 2011 Disney’s Dreamers Academy class were selected by a distinguished panel of judges including: Steve Harvey; Yolanda Adams (Gospel Music Legend); Angela Burt-Murray (former editor-in-chief, Essence Magazine); Dr. Steve Perry (Education Advocate and CNN commentator); Dalonte Hall (DDA Dreamer, Class of 2010); Terrence J (MTV Personality); Carole Munroe (Director of Media Relations, Disney Parks & Resorts); Tracey Powell (Director of Pricing, Disney Parks & Resorts); Stella Ringer (Marketing Manager, The Coca-Cola Company); Lorraine Robertson (Blogger) and Stephen A. Smith (Broadcaster/Sports Analyst).

Disney’s Dreamers Academy is designed so that the teens can be inspired, discover possibilities and prepare for their future. For additional information, visit