Youth unemployment in low-income areas is a contemporary problem in all European states. This issue exists even in developed countries as Sweden. Economic and social inequality makes dreaming difficult. In many areas in Stockholm about 40% of students leave the 9th grade without grades to get to gymnasium/high school. At the same time, many high tech companies like Ericsson and IBM lack skilled staff. Unfortunately, students are not motivated to go out and get those jobs. One of the reasons for this is the fact that nobody told them about their opportunities or made them feel welcome to the working life.
Teenagers all over the world need adult role models who can inspire. They need to find out about their opportunities and alternative ways to their dreams. To respond to that challenge, Johan Bygdeson established My Dream Now in 2011.
My Dream Now was founded in 2011 by Johan Bygdeson. My Dream Now is a long-term program, run by the not-for profit social enterprise Creador AB, registered as a private limited company in Sweden.
My Dream Now was founded in Husby, Stockholm, Sweden. Jonas Bygdeson has combined experience from the corporate world in export sales and being engaged in NGOs like the Red Cross to help new people in Sweden with foreign background. He found that large IT companies in Kista, ‘the Silicon Valley’ in Stockholm, complained that too few teenagers were interested in mathematics and in the jobs, they could offer. Literally, across the street, in the low-income area of Husby, kids at school did not have any parents or knew other adults who worked in these offices. These kids lacked motivation to do their math homework, since they did not see where it could take them; they did not believe they had opportunities. They had never been to an office, never met anyone from a big company who would tell them about different types of jobs, become role model and make them feel inspired to work hard at school. Many were attracted to destructive groups of youth with less positive role models. Therefore, Jonas thought, why cannot we invite volunteers from the companies to inspire kids in schools and share their experiences on what is important to get at job. Why cannot we invite kids from school to visit the offices? Therefore, he did that. Shortly after, he established My Dream Now.
My Dream Now is the main program of the social enterprise Creador Ab. Jonas Bygdeson owns the organization. Creador AB is politically, religiously and ideologically unbound. The board of the organization consists of five members. In Sweden, My Dream Now has offices in Stockholm and Gothenburg.
My Dream Now is working with a number of national and transnational companies in order to create more opportunities for its target group. The organization is open for international collaboration as it strives to expand in other countries such as Kenya.
The team of My Dream Now believes that all teenagers should know their value in society and find their own way to jobs and dreams. My Dream Now works against segregation and youth unemployment, for social sustainability and competence supply.
The model used by My Dream Now is simple. Employees from the partner-companies, together with other volunteers, work to inspire and motivate teenagers to find and realize their dreams.
My Dream Now offers several different programs for schools that motivate students to achieve high grades at school. The purpose is to inspire students to believe in themselves, understand their opportunities in working life, and seek their own dreams. The class coach program is the main program and receives the greatest dissemination among the schools. The evaluations show that many of the students find the opportunity to meet role models from the working life important and inspiring. The team of My Dream Now prioritizes upper secondary schools in areas where many young people lack adult role models but where the potential is also the greatest.
For the class coach program, the team trains volunteer class coaches from working life who the students meet on four occasions during a school year. The program is structured with different focus to make students understand the importance of active leisure time, experiences outside the school, the labor market, how to apply for jobs, etc. In support of this process, the coaches use My Dream Now’s own methodology DreamMap. During the school year, students may also make one or more study visits at one of the partner companies.
My Dream Now conducts three different types of activities:
My Dream Now offers several ways for partner companies to get involved:
My Dream Now has active programs in Sweden and Kenya. In Sweden, the team works with some 20 schools in the Stockholm, Göteborg and Skåne areas.
In Kenya, My Dream Now started working in Nairobi at Cheleta Primary School in October 2018. The students come from the low-income areas Huruma Village and Githogoro, in the Runda area. The first class coach gathering was carried through on 9 October 2018 in partnership with DHL Kenya. Nine volunteers from different local companies met over 60 pupils from grade 5. In the beginning of 2019, the team plans to start at New Dawn High School in Huruma Village.
My Dream Now is currently speaking to a couple of local companies to collaborate with, and hopes of being able to work with more schools in Nairobi in 2019.
The main target group of My Dream Now are kids and teenagers with fewer opportunities – financial and social obstacles, who comes from low-income areas of Sweden and Kenya. The team also target a wide range of companies, which can offer mentoring to these teenagers and eventually employment in the future.
The biggest challenge for the founder of My Dream Now was to attract companies to support his idea. The first companies, which took part in the initiative, were Tieto, DHL, Nordea and Canon. Many brands did not have a long-term corporate social strategy, which involved their own employees in their own country. Gradually, the companies have started to look at this kind of initiatives, which offer prospect for the employees to be involved in the corporate social responsibility policy.
Other challenge for Jonas Bygdeson was to persuade schools to take the challenge to be involved in such a new initiative.
My Dream Now has been profitable since 2012 to ensure financial stability and long-term development. All profits are re-invested in the organization to allow for further expansion.
In 2017-2018, My Dream Now met with 1913 pupils and engaged 260 volunteers, carried through 229 class coach gatherings and worked with 124 different employers.
The ultimate goal of My Dream Now’s team is to work with 1 000 000 teenagers in 10 years in 10 different countries.
The lesson learnt by Jonas Bygdeson and his team is that there are people who want to solve the problems of segregation and youth employment. These people need someone who helps them get engaged. Corporate Social Responsibility has become a big issue, and there is a need of people who are willing to run a startup and become social entrepreneurs and to show companies how to engage with local communities in order to improve their lives.
The model offered by My Dream Now can be transferred in other cities and towns in Sweden, where segregation and youth unemployment are experienced. My Dream Now works for such expansion on national level.
The activities included in the program My Dream Now can find applications in many countries and regions regardless their economic level. The model is applicable in regions where there are companies, which are engaged in Corporate Social Responsibility and would have interest to be involved in programs that will bring more high-skilled young employees.
1. Website of My Dream Now: http://www.mydreamnow.se.
Hessmo, A. (2014). Member Story: Jonas Bygdeson – Empowering Youth with My Dream Now. An interview, 12 November 2014, [online] https://stockholm.impacthub.net/member-story-jonas-bygdeson-empowering-youth-with-my-dream-now/.