TheDream.US has announced a $33 million gift from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, in support of college scholarships for undocumented immigrant students.
The largest gift ever to TheDream.US will make it possible for a thousand undocumented students with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status to attend one of more than seventy partner colleges in fifteen states. TheDream.US currently supports 2,850 immigrant college students, each of whom receives a total of $33,000 in scholarship aid over four years to help pay the cost of tuition, fees, and books.
Co-founded in 2014 by Donald E. Graham, a former owner of the Washington Post, which Bezos bought in 2013; Democratic fundraiser Henry R. Muñoz III; and former U.S. commerce secretary Carlos Gutierrez, TheDream.US supports students who were brought to the United States as children — known as DREAMers after the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which was first introduced in Congress in 2001 but has yet to be passed into law. DREAMers, eight hundred thousand of whom have received DACA status since 2012, are ineligible for federal grants and loans; receive no state aid in forty-four states; and must pay out-of-state or international tuition — which is often more than three times in-state tuition — in at least fifteen states.
"Our students are highly motivated and determined to succeed in college and in life," said TheDream.US president Candy Marshall. "We’re a three-and-a-half-year-old program, so we don’t yet have graduation rates. But our scholars are thriving academically. Ninety-four percent return to their college after the first year; the national average is 72 percent."
"My dad came to the U.S. when he was sixteen as part of Operation Pedro Pan," said Bezos, whose parents, Mike and Jackie Bezos, were among the early donors to TheDream.US. "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."
(Photo credit: TheDream.US)