By Alison Stanton

At Teen Strong, we want to let everybody know about organizations that are making a difference in the lives of teenagers. Today we are pleased to share our conversation with Maggie Walsh (she/her) the Director of Global Outreach at Dream Equal, Inc. 

Q: Who founded Dream Equal, Inc., and what was the inspiration behind the organization?

A: Ina Bhoopalam (she/her/hers), Dream Equal’s founder and Executive Director, was inspired by her own personal experience with gender stereotypes growing up. In her research, one of the most surprising discoveries was that children learn gender stereotypes by the time they turn six years old. With that in mind, Ina knew that it is important to address stereotypes at a young age, before they start to inflict real harm. Ina recruited Dream Equal’s Executive Team in the Fall of 2019, and since then we’ve worked tirelessly to provide support to communities all over the world as they engage in crucial gender equality work. Dream Equal is an entirely youth-led movement; I’m one of the oldest members of the team and I just turned 21 in the Summer of 2020! We are really passionate about working with teenagers all over the country and world to make a difference, as we know how effective young people can be.

Q: Please tell me about the mission statement/goals of Dream Equal, and why it is so important to have an organization like Dream Equal to help.

A: Dream Equal is a revolutionary organization, and no one else works like we do. Our motto is “redefining feminine and masculine to human” because we believe that no one should be forced to limit their dreams or modify how they express themselves to fit one image. By empowering all genders, we include groups that have traditionally been left out of the conversation on gender equality. While it is important to focus on empowering women and girls to overcome issues like the gender pay gap and lack of representation in certain career fields, stereotypes also harm other genders. For example, many men are taught to suppress their emotions as a sign of strength and masculinity, which can lead to mental health issues. Additionally, it is incredibly important to recognize nonbinary folks and other genders so they can express themselves and live authentically. By teaching children and young adults that it is okay to go after any goal or express themselves in any way, Dream Equal can help a new generation build their confidence.

Q: About how long ago was Dream Equal founded?

A: The original concept of Dream Equal was implemented a few years ago as a local organization in Nebraska, but the Dream Equal we know today launched officially in January, 2020. As of November 2020, we have 29 chapters in 14 different countries around the world.

Q: What types of programs and services do you offer there?

A: Dream Equal has three pillars: education, empowerment, and advocacy. Most of our programming falls along one or multiple of these pillars. Our Curriculum Team works really hard to create sets of activities and lesson plans that Dream Equal chapters (clubs in high schools, colleges, and communities worldwide) can implement in their local Elementary or Middle School as an after-school program. Chapters can also host one-time workshops (either virtually or in person), hold fundraisers, speak with local policymakers to advocate for change, create social media campaigns, or work with their teachers to include more underrepresented genders in their lesson plans.

Q: If someone wanted to start a chapter in Arizona and initiate change, how would he or she go about that?

A: Starting a chapter is really easy! All you have to do is fill out a quick form at this link: The form asks a few logistical questions as well as some information about your interests. For instance, you could write down that you want to hold an after-school program in your middle school. Once you submit the form, I will begin sending you all of the resources that Dream Equal has to offer, like logos and branding information for your chapter, guides on how to find an adult advisor or mentor, Dream Equal curriculum, and more. Individuals can also host an event or start a project on their own outside of a chapter. In that case, you should just email us at and we will send you information about Dream Equal events.


Alison is the mom of a teenage son and an older son in his early 20s. She has been a freelance writer for the past 22 years and she thinks teenagers are the best!