TheDream.US (TDUS) was established in 2013, in an effort to help illegal aliens who were affected by President Barack Obama‘s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action, which granted hundreds of thousands of illegals temporary legal status, work permits, access to certain publicly funded social services, and protection from deportation. TDUS’s mission is “to help 5,000 highly motivated DREAMers” – whom it describes as “immigrant youth who came to this country at a very young age without documentation” – to “graduate from college with career-ready degrees.” “DREAMers are highly motivated students who bring a sense of responsibility and accountability to their college educations,” says TDUS, “but only 5 to 10% are able to afford it.” “Despite the fact that this is the only country they have ever known,” the organization laments, “they’ll receive no federal aid to go to college, have limited access to state aid, and often face paying out-of-state tuition” – i.e., the higher tuition rates that are typically paid at state colleges by students who live in a state other than the one where their school is located.
TDUS offers two types of scholarships. Its National Scholarships provide each beneficiary with up to $14,500 toward an associate’s degree and $29,000 toward a bachelor’s degree. Its Opportunity Scholarships – which are tailored for high-school graduates “who live in targeted, locked-out states that do not offer in-state tuition to DREAMers, or [that] bar [DREAMers] from attending state colleges and universities altogether” – provide up to $80,000 to cover the costs of tuition, fees, and on-campus housing and meals for each recipient pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
TDUS works in conjunction with more than 75 partner colleges in 14 States and Washington, D.C. These schools, says the organization, “have a track record of serving low-income, first-generation students and provide a designated Scholar Advisor who provides ongoing support and assistance to address all of the emotional, lifestyle, and financial challenges that may prevent our Scholars from completing college.” By the end of its third year of activity, TDUS had paid out approximately $34 million in scholarship awards to 2,866 “DREAMer scholars.” All told, the organization’s scholarship commitments – including promises of future awards – stood at $103 million.
TDUS was co-founded by four individuals:
Over the years, TDUS has received financial support from numerous philanthropies, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Pershing Square Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Ford Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation, the Coca-Cola Foundation, the PepsiCo Foundation, and the Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation. Other key funders include TDUS co-founders Don Graham and Amanda Bennett, as well as billionaires Pierre and Pam Omidyar — the former of whom created the auction website Ebay.com in the 1990s. In January 2018, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos announced that he was donating $33 million to fund 1,000 TDUS scholarships valued at $33,000 apiece.
Further Reading: “Our Scholarships” (TheDream.us); “Our People: Meet Our Founders” (TheDream.us); “Our Supporters” (TheDream.us); “Jeff Bezos … Gives $33 Million To Nonprofit Helping Dreamers Pay For College” (Forbes, 1-12-2018).