Jeff Bezos writes big check to help ‘dreamers’

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Jeff Bezos writes big check to help ‘dreamers’

By CSA Staff - 01/12/2018
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will help 1,000 “dreamers” go to college.

Bezos, whose adoptive father immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba, and his wife MacKenzie, have made a $33 million grant to the nation’s largest scholarship program for dreamers, the undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. The grant to TheDream.US is the largest in the organization’s history.

The donation by the Bezos will give 1,000 undocumented immigrant graduates of U.S. high schools with DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status the opportunity to go to college, the organization said. Candy Marshall, president of TheDream.US., called the donation “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.”

The donation comes as legislators and the White House struggle to come up with a deal to address the status of the young undocumented immigrants who could face deportation when DACA winds down, as ordered in September by President Trump, in March. It also comes as Trump continues his thinly veiled criticism of Bezos, citing his concern about Amazon’s impact on the U.S. Postal Service.

Dreamers – 800,000 of whom have received DACA status since 2012 – face a variety of challenges when it comes to attending college. They are ineligible for federal grants and loans, and get no state aid in 44 states. They also must pay out-of-state or international tuition, which often more than three times in-state tuition in more than 15 states.

In his statement, Bezos cited the experience of his father, who came to the U.S. from Cuba when he was 16 as part of Operation Pedro Pan.

“He landed in this country alone and unable to speak English,” Bezos said. “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.”

TheDream.US partners with more than 70 low-cost colleges in 15 states. Dreamers receive a total of $33,000 in scholarship aid over four years to help pay the cost of tuition, fees and books. 2,850 students are currently enrolled in college under the program.

Mike and Jackie Bezos (parents of Jeff) are also among the early donors to TheDream.US., as is The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have also donated to the fund, which was established by Donald Graham, the former publisher of The Washington Post. He sold the company to Bezos in 2013.