Essence Communications Joins with Disney Parks, Steve Harvey to Help Take Disney's Dreamers Academy to the 'Next Level'

Jul 02, 2010, 14:49 ET from Walt Disney World Resort

NEW ORLEANS, July 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Disney's Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey, a program created by Disney Parks to provide career-exploration and mentoring to high school teens, has gained another "voice" – another big, national voice: Through an agreement announced today with Essence Communications Inc., the annual event is being relaunched as Disney's Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine.



The program, which brings together 100 high school students from across the country for several days of interactive workshops and seminars, mentoring and inspiration focusing on careers and life enrichment (all sprinkled with Disney fun), will be convening its fourth class at Walt Disney World Resort in early 2011.

"Essence is closely aligned with Disney and Steve Harvey in supporting the mission of Disney's Dreamers Academy and its commitment to positively impacting our youth," said Angela Burt-Murray, editor-in-chief of Essence Magazine. "Disney's Dreamers Academy is helping teens take steps in the right direction, and we want to be right there with the students, both encouraging them and sharing their stories."

Tracey Walters-Powell, executive champion of the program for Disney Parks & Resorts, added, "Disney's Dreamers Academy is a perfect platform to further the goal, shared by Disney Parks, Essence Communications and – it goes without saying – by Steve Harvey, to inspire children. We are genuinely excited about the possibilities ahead as Essence joins with Steve and Disney to take the initiative to the next level."

Upon creating Disney's Dreamers Academy in 2007, Disney joined forces with Harvey, a nationally syndicated radio personality, actor and best-selling author, to launch the initial nationwide search for high school students who possess a winning combination of attributes that reflect strong character and an attitude that will enable them to seek and take advantage of opportunities for their future.

Each fall since then, thousands of teens have been nominated by parents, teachers, school administrators, church groups and even the students themselves. A distinguished panel of leaders from communications, education, industry and entertainment – including Harvey and Disney cast – reviews the applications and selects a Dreamers Academy class of 100 teens in grades 9 through 12.

"This is really such an amazing collaboration," Harvey said. "We have the gold standard of international entertainment with Walt Disney World Resort. Essence is known the world over for being a clear and positive voice for African American women. Disney and Essence will bring these kids so much hope and show them the world is right at their fingertips if they learn how to dream. Disney's Dreamers Academy is evolving into more than I even imagined it could be."

As Disney, Essence Communications and Harvey formulate plans for the 2011 Disney's Dreamers Academy, their collective minds will be to develop a program that inspires high school students to  "dream bigger, explore a world of possibilities and get started making those dreams a reality," according to Disney's Walters-Powell.

The "getting started" or "training" component being developed marks an elevation to the "next level," she added.

"Motivation, inspiration is a building block," she said. "Now we are going to add the nudge that puts these young people's plans into action as they prepare for productive adult lives."

Nominations for the Class of 2011 can be submitted from July 2-Oct. 31, 2010, with information about procedures at The 100 high school students selected will travel to Walt Disney World Resort, near Orlando in central Florida, for Disney's Dreamers Academy March 3-6, 2011.

About Essence Communications Inc.:

Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the number one media and communications company dedicated to African-American women.  With a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online, the Essence brand is "Where Black Women Come First".  

The company's flagship publication, ESSENCE magazine, is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women, generating brand extensions such as the Essence Music Festival, ESSENCE Black Women in  Hollywood, Window on Our Women (WOW I & II) and Smart Beauty I, II & III consumer insights, the Essence Book Club,, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD). For 40 years, ESSENCE, which has a brand reach of over 8 million, has been the leading source of cutting-edge information relating to every area of African-American women's lives. Additional information about ECI and ESSENCE is available at

About Steve Harvey:

Steve Harvey began doing stand-up comedy in the mid-1980s, which eventually led to a long stint as host of "It's Showtime at the Apollo." His success as a stand-up comedian led to multiple TV sitcoms, including: "Me and The Boys", "The Steve Harvey Show" and "Steve Harvey's Big Time Challenge."

In 1997 he toured as one of the legendary "Kings of Comedy" alongside Cedric The Entertainer, the late Bernie Mac and D.L. Hughley. The success of the tour led to one of the most successful comedy DVDs in history – "The Original Kings of Comedy" directed by Spike Lee.

His first book, "Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man" quickly became a bestseller in 2009. Harvey has appeared on "The Oprah Show," "Nightline," "Good Morning America" and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

Currently, Harvey hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Harvey Morning Show" which airs in over 60 markets and has over 7 million listeners.

About Walt Disney World Resort / The Walt Disney Co.:

Walt Disney World Resort is a contiguous 40-square-mile, world-class entertainment and recreation center located at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 20 miles southwest of Orlando. Open daily, year-round, it features four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom); two water adventure parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon); 34 resort hotels (24 owned and operated by Walt Disney World, includes seven Disney Vacation Club resort properties); 81 holes of golf on five courses; two full-service spas; Disney's Wedding Pavilion; ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex; and Downtown Disney, an entertainment-shopping-dining complex encompassing the Marketplace, Pleasure Island and West Side.

The Walt Disney Co. has a rich legacy of creativity and exceptional storytelling that brings families together in unique and memorable ways. Creative excellence is coupled with a strong commitment to community service and diversity. The Walt Disney Co. is dedicated to making a positive impact in communities around the world, with a primary focus on brightening the lives of children.

SOURCE Walt Disney World Resort