What we do

A City of Dream Chasers

The main outreach and operating program of Urban Dream Chasers is called “Level Up,” which has now become a magnetic, city-wide movement and popular brand name among Philadelphia’s young people.  In a city so dangerous that young people are either constantly in harm’s way on the violent streets, or voluntarily confining themselves to their homes (which sometimes are just as toxic as the streets), our safe space is a true oasis in this urban wilderness.

Our space has 4, 75-inch screen televisions for video games, sports, and movies, pool and ping pong tables, couches and quiet corners where youth experiencing trauma and stress can relax (or take a nap), and a $10,000 dance studio, created just for them. As our dance studio draws the best dancers from the city, any given day at Level Up offers everything from entertainment to academic tutoring and counseling, to overall edification through self-empowerment. We even have city-wide “Level Up” nights, where we have bouncy-houses and mechanical bulls, “viral,” live dance battles, and create a true carnival experience, — with freshly prepared meals for hundreds, and everything for FREE. Our methodology for Level Up is summed up in the acronym, “L.I.F.E.”— as we offer them L.I.F.E. in the face of so much death in our city.

Our methodology for Level Up is summed up in the acronym, “L.I.F.E.”—as we offer them L.I.F.E. in the face of so much death in our city


we put on large entertaining events in our 12,000 square ft. space to draw (i.e., locate) young people from high-risk neighborhoods. As our events draw them by the hundreds, we call it the “love net.”


as we serve free freshly prepared meals at every gathering, young people cannot get a meal without first filling out a questionnaire (kept confidential), telling us a bit about themselves, while also checking off appropriate boxes of ways they may need help.


we then strengthen (i.e., fortify) those areas of need, whether it be tutoring, counseling, court advocacy, family counseling, or all the above.


we then show off (i.e., exemplify) our empowered leaders to the world, challenging stereotypes and changing the narrative and landscape of Philadelphia's youth.


Holistic Mentoring


Level Up provides holistic mentoring and programming for teens and young adults from high-risk neighborhoods in a safe haven context. We offer the following services: participation in the performing arts, academic tutoring, college preparation, youth leadership development, benevolence, PTSD and family counseling, court advocacy, job placement and ex-offender aftercare.

Level Up also identifies and trains young people for peer-to-peer mentoring roles. Our leadership team guides, counsels, and coaches our teens and young adults to become catalysts for positive change in their schools and communities.

By modeling conflict resolution, Level Up defuses inter-neighborhood gang wars. We speak about de-escalation techniques and engage in anti-retaliation negotiations. Local gang members choose to retire their guns. Drug dealers stop selling on street corners and become law-abiding employees instead. As a result, Level Up is directly reducing gun violence in our beautiful city.

Weekly Gatherings


Every Thursday and Sunday evening, Antioch transforms into the Level-Up Safe Haven. It is both an escape from gun violence and a place to be mentored. Amenities throughout the open floor plan are curated just for our youth. Our recreation area gives a place to play with ping pong, a pool table, and full-size arcade games. The four, 75-inch screen televisions with Playstations host video game tournaments and show movies. Soft leather couches allow a place to relax, talk with friends, do homework, or take naps. Our renovated dance studio and a dedicated sound system encourage healthy expression. Dancers receive recognition and support from their peers and a way to physically explain what they encounter on the street during the rest of the week.

Quiet rooms allow youth to connect with resources and invest in their futures. Professional educators and college students tutor students one-on-one in all academic subject areas. Prospective college students receive assistance with college applications and meet with financial aid counselors. Advisors help youth complete job applications and build their resumes. Social workers are available to talk through challenges and help connect students with additional community resources.

Our weekly gatherings always include a massive, home-cooked meal. Young people from different neighborhoods gather around our table, like family. Before eating together, we take time to celebrate their achievements—whether it is grades in school or getting off parole. We welcome new faces, impart relevant life and survival lessons. Sadly, we also must take time to mourn with those present whose close friends and relatives have recently been shot or murdered.

Monthly Gathering


Our monthly, Friday night events draw over 250 young people from the most high-risk neighborhoods across Philadelphia. We know that we are inviting rival gang members to show up at the same place. While we set the expectation that each event will be non-violent, we take no chances. Trained security—consisting of people from the same tough Philly neighborhoods as our youth—is present to ensure that everyone is safe and can enjoy themselves. The “peace gatherings” are completely free and fun with mechanical bull rides, moon bounces, manicure stations, music, and plenty of fried chicken and waffles to eat. “Jersey Club” dance battles give dancers a way to settle conflict without violence. Level Up mentees manage an Instagram account to promote and document the events. Follow @LevelUpFridays on Instagram to see us in action.

The large, monthly gatherings cast a giant “love net” designed to attract teens and young adults from a wide geographic area. We capture a multitude of young people at a time and introduce them to a safe, fun, and nurturing experience with the goal of turning a visitor into a regular participant. Youth are invited to join our more intimate, weekly gatherings. Our weekly safe-space gatherings provide consistent opportunities for individualized mentoring designed to help youth “level up.” We want to move our participants from a focus on the immediate to having a long-term vision for their futures.

Level Up Philly