Skip to main content

Giving: Dreamville, Fayetteville

09/30/2013 08:06PM, Published by Ashlee Cleveland, Categories:



Gallery: Dreamville [6 Images] Click any image to expand.



By Miriam Landru

Teachers always said the same thing when Jermaine was in school…‘Great kid, makes all A’s…talks too much,’” recalled Kay Cole, mother of Fayetteville native and successful musical artist, J. Cole. Kay laughed when she relayed to me that she would just nod her head to the teacher.

In actuality, she knew her son’s outgoing nature would lead to his success and she never attempted to stifle it. These days, J. Cole is known as one of the most successful artists in his industry, having received numerous award nominations including a “Best New Artist” nod at the 2012 Grammy Awards. His sophomore album, Born Sinner, dropped this past June and beat out Kanye West’s new record that debuted the same day.

Despite his continued success and fame in the music business, J. Cole maintains a humble and respectful demeanor which is witnessed by many on his visits back to town working with his non-profit, The Dreamville Foundation.

Cole established the foundation in October 2011 as a way to “give back” to the community he grew up in, whether it be through back-to-school supply giveaways, hosting summer camps or creating a book club for at-risk high schoolaged youth. “Kids are so important to him. He wants to inspire children and let them know the potential that’s in them,” stressed Kay.

One way Cole is reaching out to the community is via his book club based at Westover High School. For the past year, participants in the Dreamville Reading Club have read and discussed numerous novels. It started out being a boys club, but the girls of Westover wanted in on the action. “We had a large percentage of the girls express, ‘Well what about us?’” shared Thomas Benson, Westover’s principal. The books are chosen and tailored for the boys and girls based on what will appeal to them. J. Cole reads the books along with the students and if he’s not in town, he always “Skypes” into the club meetings.

This fall, the students will kick off their year by reading popular novel Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom.

“It’s all about the people you meet in life and how you affect them and don’t even know it,” shared Toni Golding, the school’s literacy coach. Bobby Pickett is enthusiastic about the book club and
is excited about his last year of involvement. “Every book relates to Dreamville and being something and making something out of your life,” he expressed. It has given Bobby the “extra push” to attend college. He is looking at pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice at UNC-Pembroke and Elizabeth City State University. Like most kids in Dreamville, he sees J.Cole as just “one of the guys,” and admires
him because of his commitment to him and his peers. “It shows that he cares about Fayetteville. Most rappers justtalk about money, cars, clothes… he raps about hard timesas a kid, embracing your flaws…” Bobby added, “He just keeps coming back and helping kids. It means a lot.”

Cumberland County Juvenile Court Judge, Toni King has seen the changes in the children she sees in the courtroom on a regular basis. Former teen gang members have left their gangs because of Dreamville. Grades are also on the rise. “They’ve learned that reading is fundamental and enjoyable through J. Cole’s influence,” she said. Judge King also recognized how people in society can view hip-hop artists and you have to “strip that away.” She conveyed, “Maybe his lyrics at times don’t line up with what you want to hear, but that’s his artistic expression. You just have to know
he’s worked very hard and received an education.”

As a Terry Sanford High School and magna cum laude graduate in Communications at New York City’s St. John University, J. Cole actively gives back to the community he grew up in.

“As my career becomes more successful (God willing), I expect the Dreamville Foundation to become more successful and structured as well,” Cole shared. At this time, there are a few
sponsors and donors that contribute to Dreamville, but most of the expense is out of Cole’s pocket.

The Dreamville Foundation has its roots in Fayetteville and also has a following in St. Louis, Missouri. There are plans to spread nationwide. Cole is charity-minded and recognizes that
all non-profits have their purpose. “At the end of the day, we’re all here to help rather than compete. With that said, I think that what makes us different is that we’re a foundation that is founded and operated by people who are not much older than the kids we are trying to reach,” he stressed.

Judge King has taken full note of the positive impact Cole has had on the students. “For youth in general, when you see a star, even if they’re from your community, it’s very rare to see them
come back to the community and interact.”  She continued, “When he visits the book club, he sits right there with them.” Golding chimed in, “It’s not about the glitz, it’s about his humble spirit. He really stresses how important school is.”

Inspiring youth to further their education is a definite goal and purpose of Dreamville. “The mission is to reveal to youth their limitless potential through positive life-altering experiences,” said
Melissa Heholt, Executive Director. Bobby Pickett is a true testament to the “limitless potential” that’s being fostered in the youth participating in Dreamville.

“The sky isn’t even the limit now because I know I can go beyond that.”




giving cityview online extra j cole dreamville


  • Tai Chi for Health

    05/23/2017
    10:00AM

    Practice this flowing eastern exercise with instructor Rich Martin while overlooking the Garden. ...


  • Cape Fear Studios' 27th Anniversary

    05/23/2017
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Cape Fear Studios' 27th Anniversary is being celebrated by their member artists. Come explore a v...


  • Local Organic Farmers Market

    05/24/2017
    04:00PM — 06:00PM

    Enjoy high quality, locally sourced produce from certified organic farmers. Come out and meet the...


  • Yoga in the Garden

    05/24/2017
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Cape Fear Botanical Garden and YMCA of Sandhills have partnered to bring you "Yoga in the Garden....


  • National Poppy Day

    05/26/2017
    05:00AM — 11:00PM

    Join with The American Legion and wear a red poppy Friday, May 26. National Poppy Day is to re...


  • Enjoy watching all the racing action on the 1/2-mile clay track at Fayetteville Motor Speedway du...


  • Memorial Day Tent Sale at Southern Design

    05/26/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    Come to Southern Design Furniture May 25 - May 31 and enjoy great Memorial Day sale prices on bea...


  • Plant Appreciation Walking Group

    05/26/2017
    03:00PM — 04:30PM

    Meet other plant lovers and walk the trails at the park and along the Cape Fear River (CFR) ident...


  • 3rd Annual Art Show

    05/26/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Join us for the 3rd Annual Art Show Reception on May 26, at 6pm! The exhibit will run May 26 - J...


  • 4th Friday

    05/26/2017
    06:00PM — 10:00PM

    On the Fourth Friday of every month between 6:00 and 10:00pm, Downtown features history exhibits,...


  • The Diary of Anne Frank

    05/26/2017
    08:00PM

    The Gilbert Theater's last show of the 2016-2017 season is The Diary of Anne Frank, written by Go...


  • Birthday Dance & Potluck

    05/26/2017
    09:00PM — 01:00AM

    Celebrate your birthday month with others every 4th Friday of the month! Birthday dance & potluc...


  • Memorial Day Tent Sale at Southern Design

    05/27/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    Come to Southern Design Furniture May 25 - May 31 and enjoy great Memorial Day sale prices on bea...


  • Public Works

    05/27/2017
    12:00PM — 04:00PM

    Come see all types of visual art for all ages. Visit the Arts Council's galleries to see the lar...


  • It’s America in 1963, with the turmoil of the JFK assasination and the civil rights movement. In ...


  • Fish Fry Fundraiser

    05/29/2017
    09:00AM — 08:00PM

    Event June 3 at 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. Join Raeford United Methodist Church for their annual Good Ne...


  • Memorial Day Tent Sale at Southern Design

    05/29/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    Come to Southern Design Furniture May 25 - May 31 and enjoy great Memorial Day sale prices on bea...


  • Memorial Day Tent Sale at Southern Design

    05/25/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    Come to Southern Design Furniture May 25 - May 31 and enjoy great Memorial Day sale prices on bea...


  • National Poppy Day

    05/26/2017
    05:00AM — 11:00PM

    Join with The American Legion and wear a red poppy Friday, May 26. National Poppy Day is to re...


  • Public Works

    05/27/2017
    12:00PM — 04:00PM

    Come see all types of visual art for all ages. Visit the Arts Council's galleries to see the lar...


  • This is the fifth annual concert where the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra will play patriotic an...


CityView Facebook
CityView Family Facebook