Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has donated US$33 million to TheDream.US, an initiative to provide higher education to Dreamers – those who were brought to the United States illegally as children and are protected from deportation under the Obama administration’s DACA programme.
The donation from Bezos – who has an estimated net worth of US$90.6 billion and owns The Washington Post newspaper – will assist around 1,000 Dreamers to attend college, providing them each US$33,000 in aid over four years to pay for tuition and fees.
“My dad came to the US when he was 16 as part of Operation Pedro Pan,” said Bezos, whose grant is the largest TheDream.US has ever received.
“He landed in this country alone and unable to speak English. With a lot of grit and determination – and the help of some remarkable organisations 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.”
There are 1.3 million undocumented immigrant young people across the US, some 65,000 of whom graduate from high school each year. Nevertheless, they are ineligible for federal aid and have limited access to state aid to attend tertiary institutions.
— TheDream.US (@thedream_us) January 15, 2018
TheDream.US provides scholarships to assist Dreamers to pay for tuition at more than 75 partner universities including the University of Washington, UC Santa Cruz, Rutgers, Colorado State University and the University of Houston.
TheDream.US president Candy Marshall said:
“Our students are highly motivated and determined to succeed in college and in life.”
Being only a three-and-a-half-year-old programme, Marshall said it didn’t have graduation rates yet, but according to the organisation, 94 percent of their scholars return to college after the first year, compared to a national average of 72 percent.
“MacKenzie and I are honoured to be able to help today’s Dreamers by funding these scholarships,” Bezos said, referring to his novelist wife, MacKenzie Bezos.
Back in 2015, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg donated US$5 million to TheDream.US.