Jan 17, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Many Dreamers just got a big step closer to their college dreams. Here’s a closer look at a newly announced $33 million scholarship grant funded by Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos aimed at supporting Dreamers in pursuing university degrees.

About the Scholarship

The Bezos grant is the largest one in the history of TheDream.US, which -- as the country’s largest scholarship program for Dreamers -- currently provides $33,000 in funding over four years to cover college costs for 2,850 Dreamers. The Bezos grant will allow for an additional 1,000 students to benefit from the program. 

Said Jeff Bezos, “My dad came to the U.S. when he was 16 as part of Operation Pedro Pan. He landed in this country alone and unable to speak English. With a lot of grit and determination – and the help of some remarkable organizations in Delaware – my dad became an outstanding citizen, and he continues to give back to the country that he feels blessed him in so many ways. MacKenzie and I are honored to be able to help today’s Dreamers by funding these scholarships.”

Why It Matters

Approximately 800,000 Dreamers have received DACA status since 2012, and they face a number of challenges when it comes to attending college, including ineligibility for federal grants and loans and limited state aid. Additionally, they must pay either out-of-state or international tuition in many states.

Said TheDream.US president Candy Marshall, “Our students are highly motivated and determined to succeed in college and life. We’re a three-and-a-half-year-old program, so we don’t yet have graduation rates. But our scholars are thriving academically. 94% return to their college after the first year; the national average is 72%. We expect a 75% graduation rate. This is extraordinary—extraordinary for any students; extraordinary for the colleges they attend; and extraordinary for students from low-income families in particular.”

And the grant couldn’t come at a better time than now, insists Marshall. “It is a shot in the arm for Dreamer students at a time when some are questioning whether they should be in the United States at all,” she says.

Also promising news on the DACA front? That so many tech luminaries are joining the fight. Most recently, more than 100 American business leaders, including everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to Tim Cook, joined Bezos in signing an open letter imploring Congress to take action on the DACA program before its imminent expiration.

 

 

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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