Written by Ed Osborn
Scholarship will give DREAMers who live in ‘locked out’ states the chance to earn a college degree
Willimantic, CT– Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and representatives of TheDream.US, the nation’s largest scholarship program for DREAMers — immigrant youth who came to the United States without documentation — today announced a new groundbreaking scholarship program at Eastern Connecticut State University for DREAMers who are “locked out” of access to a college education in their home states. Eastern and Delaware State University are the only two partner colleges in the country selected by TheDream.US organization and their respective governors to participate in the program. “We’re pleased to take part in this program and do what we can to give hardworking students the change to succeed,” said Gov. Malloy. “Our state stands to benefit from welcoming them — along with their talents and potential — to our communities and to our schools.”
TheDream.US Opportunity Scholarship will provide a pathway to higher education for highly-motivated immigrant students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protective Status (TPS) who live in states where they are “locked out” of access to a college education because they are required to pay out-of-state tuition or prohibited from enrolling in the state’s colleges and universities all together. Not only will no state funds be spent on this program, the scholarship program has the potential to generate substantial revenue for Eastern.
“For hundreds of thousands of kids, the door to higher education is closed just because of where they were born.
These are the DREAMers,” said Maria Pacheco, program director of TheDream.US. “It doesn’t matter how hard they’ve worked; these students just can’t get access to higher education. You will find them to be modest, hardworking and extremely motivated students. Some have been waiting years for this opportunity; others are right out of high school.”
Both Eastern and Delaware State University have the capacity to admit DREAMer Scholars without depriving Connecticut or Delaware state students of the opportunity to attend these colleges. TheDream.US Opportunity Scholarship — which is privately funded — will pay up to $80,000 to help fund the costs of tuition, fees, on-campus housing and meals for each DREAMer to earn a bachelor’s degree. As many as 50 students from locked-out states will enroll at Eastern this fall to begin their college education.
“Education is an American value; we should help every student who has worked hard,” said Donald E. Graham, co-founder of The.Dream.US. “TheDream.US Opportunity Scholarship will help immigrant students fulfill their dreams of obtaining a college education so they can better the lives of their families, communities and our nation. We are proud to partner with Eastern Connecticut State University and Delaware State University, with the incredible leadership of Governor Malloy and Governor Markell, to give deserving students the opportunity for an affordable college education.”
In addition to funding more than 500 out-of-state DREAMers over the next few years, TheDream.US will provide 100 scholarships of up to $7,250 each to in-state DREAMers attending Eastern Connecticut State University or Delaware State University. TheDream.US founders are also working with local philanthropists to raise additional funds for scholarships for Connecticut and Delaware state students who also struggle to pay for a college education.
“I am extremely proud TheDream.US chose Eastern,” said Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System. “I would like to congratulate Eastern and President Elsa Núñez for fostering a climate of diversity and inclusion. These undocumented young people are untapped talent, and we can’t afford to leave them behind.” Ojakian assured the audience, “This is not a handout. To obtain a scholarship, students must meet standards for academic merit and satisfy enrollment requirements.”
Eastern student Robert Diaz ’16, who has DACA status, also offered
comments. Born in the Dominican Republic, Diaz moved to the New London area when he was 11 years old, eventually graduating from Grasso Technical High School in Groton. After attending Three Rivers Community College, Diaz enrolled at Eastern as an Environmental Earth Science major, and will attend Rhode Island School of Design this fall to learn how to design sustainable buildings.
“If it wasn’t for Eastern, I wouldn’t be here talking with you today. The faculty and the staff have been wonderful. Everyone has been there for me every step of the way. I know that in the future, other students like me will be able to fulfill their dreams with the DREAM.US Opportunity Scholarship. I am proud of Eastern, and I am happy to see this scholarship program put into place.”
The Opportunity Scholarship is available to DREAMers in 16 targeted locked-out states, including Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The deadline for applications is June 9, and scholarship recipients will be announced at the end of June. For a full list of eligibility requirements and for information about how to apply, please visit: http://www.thedream.us/opportunityscholarship/.
TheDream.US is a national college access and success program for immigrant youths who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protective Status (TPS) and want to obtain a college education to give back to their communities. TheDream.US currently provides scholarships to more than 900 DREAMers – immigrant students who came to the U.S. as children without documentation – at 70 partner colleges in states that offer in-state tuition to DREAMers, and is a project of New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3).
About Eastern Connecticut State University
Eastern Connecticut State University is the state of Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, serving more than 5,300 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 158 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 20 other states and 63 other countries. A residential campus offering 38 majors and 55 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Ranked the 27th top public university in the North Region, by U.S. News and World Report in its 2016 Best College ratings, Eastern has also been awarded “Green Campus” status by the U.S. Green Building Council six years in a row. For more information, visit www.easternct.edu.