A former owner of the Washington Post, a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, and a former Republican cabinet secretary have launched the nation's largest college scholarship fund for undocumented students who were brought to the United States illegally as children, the Washington Post reports.
Created by Donald E. Graham, fundraiser Henry R. Muñoz III, and Carlos Gutierrez, who served as commerce secretary in the administration of George W. Bush, TheDream.US fund aims to award full-tuition college scholarships to a thousand students in the next academic year. The organization, which has awarded twenty-eight scholarships to date, has also received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Inter-American Development Bank, among others.
While some private colleges offer scholarships to undocumented students and seventeen states now allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public universities, so-called "dreamers" are not eligible for Pell grants or other federal financial aid. In response, TheDream.US fund will provide students who qualify for a scholarship with $25,000 to attend a pre-approved college — including several community colleges in California, Florida, New York, Texas, or the District of Columbia and an online college owned by Kaplan, which is part of Graham Holdings.
"This is not a scholarship program for every dreamer. We do not have the money to pay a whole lot of people's tuitions to highly selective colleges," said Graham, who contributed an undisclosed amount to the fund, as did his brother Bill. "Our mission is work-related programs at low cost but relatively high quality." While the scholarships are designed for those studying nursing, teaching, computers, or business, a recipient who graduates from a community college with an associate degree can reapply for scholarship money to complete a bachelor’s degree at another school.
"I'm not wise enough to know what is the right immigration policy for the United States of America," Graham told the Post. "I know these students deserve a chance at higher education."