Dream Outside the Box places sixth in White House competition

Senior Kam Phillips was also the queen of the centennial Homecoming.

An MU senior's project, Dream Outside the Box, made it to the final 15 in the first ever Campus Champions of Change Challenge, hosted by the White House.

The brain child of homecoming queen and senior Kam Phillips, Dream Outside the Box started in September 2009 as a way to help out local kids.

“I had been volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club and was a student in the Chancellor's Leadership Class,” Phillips, founder and executive director of Dream Outside the Box, said. “We were challenged to come up with an idea to change the world as we saw it."

Phillips said she grew up as a rodeo cowgirl who also skied, competed in ballet folklorico and participated in public speaking.

"I had no box," Phillips said. "I wanted that for the kids I worked with."

Dream Outside the Box works with kids in the Columbia community.

“Dream Outside the Box goes into the Boys and Girls Club of Columbia and exposes youth there to careers and extracurricular opportunities they may not have otherwise ever had an opportunity to be introduced to,” Phillips said.

There has been a lot of buzz around campus about Dream Outside the Box’s participation in President Barack Obama's Campus Champions of Change Challenge.

“We applied for the honor in December,” Phillips said. “Hundreds, possibly thousands of applications were considered and I got a call last Thursday from the White House saying DOTB had been chosen in the top 15.”

Campus Champions of Change is a challenge from Obama to college and university students nationwide. The goal of the challenge was to shine a light on the positive contributions of young people to inspire others to do the same, Obama stated on the challenge's website.

Public voting for the program closed Saturday. University of Massachusetts Permaculture Committee was announced as the winner of the competition Monday.

The top five vote recipients will receive an invitation to the White House as well as the opportunity to host an episode of mtvU's "The Dean's List." Dream Outside the Box finished sixth in the voting.

Phillips said Dream Outside the Box is never about lectures. She also explained the organization provides hands-on activities in order to engage the kids.

“Mizzou organizations like the fencing club, various engineering organizations and MU Improv show the children what they do and engage them in the activities,” Phillips said.

Currently, Dream Outside the Box functions under the leadership of Phillips and program coordinator Maikieta Brantley. Brantley will take over the reins for Dream Outside the Box when Phillips graduates. Breana Jones acts as the public relations director and Jahiarra Mitchell is the volunteer coordinator.

“My freshman year I met Kam and thought she was the coolest person,” Brantley said. “At a meeting for a different org she invited us to sign up and volunteer. She ended up becoming my mentor and I've been involved ever since.”

The team works closely with volunteers to achieve a new task every week. For this semester, Dream Outside the Box has already completed five projects.

“We also have a dance program with Missouri Contemporary Ballet called Dance Outside the Box where the children go to their studio and get free weekly lessons and will culminate in a final recital,” Phillips said. “Our teen program, working with kids in 6th grade to 12th grade. The Boys and Girls Club teen center just started and is growing to follow the DOTB model.”

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