Washington, D.C. – Nov. 10, 2020 The Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream (MCAAD)  today announced the winners of its inaugural I, Too, Am the Dream contest, aimed at hearing how current high school seniors describe the American Dream, what it means today and how it can be  reimagined for the future. The winners are:

  • Yasmine Bolden of Alexandria, VA
  • Malachi Levy of Bear Creek, NC
  • Antonio Preciado of Inglewood, CA

Their entries were selected from 735 essays, poems, spoken word transcripts and other forms of creative expression from over 380 schools in 45 states and the District of Columbia.

“It is essential we listen to our nation’s youth as we reimagine what the American Dream means for future generations,” said Kerry Murphy Healey, president of MCAAD. “The submissions we received recognized the hard realities many have confronted in the past, and many still face, in pursuing their dreams. At the same time, these entries were filled with messages of resilience, inclusivity, hope and optimism. These voices are wise, full of passion, conviction and leadership.”

Read the winning submissions.

In addition to a $5,000 cash award, each winner will be paired with a mentor who provides consultation, guidance and counseling for their senior year and beyond; professional coaching to create a video of their submission that will be added to MCAAD’s website; and an invitation to Washington, D.C. for the opening of the MCAAD’s Visitor Center. The winners and finalists will also have the opportunity to meet and discuss their writing with celebrated Young Adult author, Angie Thomas, in a virtual award ceremony on Thursday, November 12.

The inaugural contest was open to all U.S. high school seniors in the 2020-2021 school year across the fifty states, Washington, D.C., the U.S. territories, and students attending U.S. schools overseas. The contest was aimed at driving a bold national conversation on how best to expand opportunity and to advance the American Dream for current students and future generations.

“Our work at the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream is just beginning,” Dr. Healey added. “Reimagining the American Dream to better fulfill the aspirations expressed in the Declaration of Independence will be an on-going challenge for each generation of Americans.  MCAAD’s goal is to make people’s dreams, however they define those dreams for themselves and their families, more attainable and real through inspiration, education and access to the pathways to success. We are excited to have started this journey with these outstanding young leaders.”

In addition to the three winners, 12 high school seniors – from Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington – were recognized as finalists in the contest. These are:


Eden Blanford of Seattle, WA; Alexis Colmenares of San Diego, CA; Madison Courtney of Melissa, TX; Emily Durigan of Cranston, RI; Noah Flood of Decatur, AL; Aya Hamza of Miami, FL; Taylor Koons of Hilliard, OH; Molly McNulty of Shreveport, LA; Anika Mistry of Scotts Valley, CA; Aditya Prasad of Bellaire, TX; Heather Roselle of Point Pleasant, NJ; and Kenia Velasco of Los Angeles, CA.

Media Contact: Enxhi Myslymi and Tania Pantoja, [email protected].

About the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream
The Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream was founded in late 2019 by philanthropist, Michael Milken and is part of the Milken Institute.  The mission of the Center is to make the American Dream an attainable reality for millions of people not only in America, but around the world, by focusing on four key pillars: education and the educator; public health and medical research; access to capital and financial empowerment; and entrepreneurship and innovation. The Center will offer a broad array of programs, educational events, research initiatives and exhibits, both online and in person, at the beautiful, historic Visitor Center on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., scheduled to open in 2023. In 2021, MCAAD will host global competitions and contests to foster interest in, and drive engagement with, the Center and its pillars. For more information, visit www.mcaad.org.