Joe Bradley knew Mizzou was the right fit after he toured campus. The hopeful sports broadcaster from Omaha, Nebraska, remembers going shopping for Mizzou apparel the day after his first tour. “My mom asked if I really wanted to purchase so many items, I announced right then and there that I definitely was going to be a Tiger,” Bradley recalled.

Today, the 2011 graduate of the School of Journalism and current online graduate student is a Tiger who puts his entire heart into the Columbia community. And he has more than just a few things—family, work, school and running a nonprofit as a volunteer—on his plate.

Picture of Joe and Ellen Bradley posing in front of Jesse Hall and the Columns

Bradley met his wife Ellen at Mizzou.

Finding Service 

When Joe Bradley was a sophomore at Mizzou, he found himself wanting do more and to serve others. He considered Mizzou and CoMo (as Columbia is lovingly referred to) home and wanted to be engaged in service in the community he loved. He quickly learned opportunities to serve were plentiful.

He began volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters in 2008 and, after graduating from Mizzou with a degree in magazine journalism, served as an AmeriCorps member.

In 2014, Bradley received the phone call that would completely change his life. His Little Brother’s grandma was hoping to find a scholarship—or some type of assistance—for the $135 registration fee for her grandson to participate in youth football. Bradley promised her he would find a way. Without any scholarship opportunities available, he launched a personal fundraising effort. Through donations from friends and family, he reached the goal in less than 24 hours, and his dream was born.

Within a few months, Bradley launched the Day Dreams Foundation, a nonprofit organization aimed at eliminating financial barriers to participating in extracurricular activities. The vision of the group is to ensure that every child can fulfill his or her dream of participating in extracurricular activities without ever worrying about cost.

“I think it’s so important for kids growing up to have additional people in their lives trying to put them on the right track,” Bradley said. “Often, that person is a coach or an instructor in those extracurricular activities. I wanted to play a role in helping make sure kids in Columbia have access to participate. ”

Picture of Day Dreams Foundation board members having fun before a Mizzou football game.

Day Dreams Foundation board members having fun before a Mizzou football game. A majority of the Columbia nonprofit board members have connections to Mizzou.

Respect, Responsibility, Discovery and Excellence

Bradley credits Mizzou for providing him more than an education. It was here that he found his calling beyond his childhood dream of being a sports broadcaster.

“Mizzou really helped me become a well-rounded student, and I considered careers I had not originally considered,” Bradley said. “I came to Mizzou because I wanted to be a sportscaster. However, because the J-school required me to take classes from several areas, I learned a wide

variety of skills. Now I have a career in the communication field where every day I get the chance to take photos, film videos, design and write—all things I learned at Mizzou.”

When Bradley decided to go back to grad school, his passion for service and desire to help the Day Dreams Foundation lead him to choose the Truman School of Public Affairs to obtain his MPA.

“It was a no-brainer to look at Mizzou’s Truman School of Public Affairs,” Bradley said. “The school’s mid-career online program has allowed me to stay active in my work, volunteer and family life while continuing my education.”

His advice to new and current students? Pursue activities not only on campus but throughout Columbia.

“There are so many worthwhile opportunities to volunteer within this town,” Bradley said. “Being able to take classes with a service learning requirement introduces students to new organizations and brings people committed to service together in really unique ways.”

Picture of Joe Bradley with scholarship recipient Ja'Shaun posing with a football

Columbia kids like Ja'Shaun are able to participate in extracurricular activities thanks to scholarships from the Day Dreams Foundation. Photo by: Catherine Rhodes