Ibrahim’s Story – If You Can Dream It…


“buildOn instilled in me the main fundamental principles to believe and dream and take action. If you can dream it, you can do it.”
– Ibrahim Traore

Moving from West Africa to the South Bronx wasn’t the vacation he imagined it would be. “I thought kids in the US just went ice skating and never had to go to school,” remembers Ibrahim Traore, who left his home of Cote d’Ivoire at the early age of 11.

Just years later, Ibrahim began attending Jane Addams High School, located in “the projects” where crime was at an all-time high. Good choices were few and far between. One of his friends was sentenced to 17 years for murdering someone – a wakeup call for Ibrahim. He later recognized how fortunate he was to have his buildOn family to keep him on the right track.

One of Ibrahim’s biggest challenges in school was learning a new language – English. He received a major blow when a teacher told him, because of his language barrier, he would never amount to anything. A buildOn staff member heard about the incident and compelled the teacher to give Ibrahim a formal apology. It was the first time someone other than family had stood up for him. He knew that if he continued to study and work hard, he could be anything he wanted to be. That he would amount to something.

On Mother’s Day 2009, Ibrahim graduated from Buffalo State College. Today at age 24, he is working toward his MPA in Non-Profit Management at Long Island University and pursuing a career in acting. He also volunteers as a Site Coordinator for Reading Partners, a nonprofit providing literacy intervention for public middle school students in Harlem. One day, he hopes to start his own nonprofit that offers free acting courses for young people in the inner city. “I’m proud of myself, but still have a long way to go. I’m very ambitious. Settling is not an option.”

Breaking The Cycle

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