New scholarship to hand out $20 million to DACA students

Southern New Hampshire University and two other organizations are spearheading a program that will provide $20 million in scholarships to illegal immigrant students.

According to the university, the school is partnering with The Shapiro Foundation and TheDream.US in an effort to provide full-ride scholarships to 1,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students over the next five years.

Paul LeBlanc, the president of the SNHU, said that the university is “in the business of hope,” voicing his support for the “talent and drive” exhibited by DACA students.

[RELATED: Cuomo plans to extend NY free tuition program to ‘Dreamers’]

”As an institution of higher education, we are in the business of hope,” LeBlanc said. “We have hundreds of thousands of young people who have known no country but the US, but that are denied the financial support that gives them access to higher education.”

According to the Department of Education, “undocumented students,” including DACA recipients, are not eligible for federal financial aid, though they may qualify for assistance from their state or college.

“As a society, we can’t afford to squander their talent and drive,” LeBlanc continued. “Among them might be the next brilliant scientist, general, community leader, inventor, or entrepreneur. We must give them the tools to realize their potential.”

The official website of the initiative explains that applicants must be in the process of renewing or are currently applying for DACA or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) authorization in order to be eligible for the scholarships.

[RELATED: University launches ‘dream fund’ for DACA students]

According to the university, the project will provide illegal immigrant students an opportunity to “develop valuable skills and knowledge by working on creative real-world projects,” and earn an associate and bachelor’s degree “by mastering defined skills/competencies, setting your pace, and accelerating through material you already know.”

The university also announced that it will work with smaller community-based partners, including Match Beyond in Massachusetts and the Texas-based IDEA-U, to provide students with additional coaching and advising.

“NHU’s competency-based program combined with the supports provided by the community partner is particularly well suited to DACA students,” the school explained in its news report. “Competency-based education provides flexibility for students who often work and support their families, while the wrap around services provided by an on-the-ground community partner provide much needed support.”

[RELATED: Jeff Bezos donates $33 million for DACA scholarships]

The Shapiro Foundation and TheDream.US both welcomed the new initiative, arguing that their partnership with the university will ensure that the project succeeds.

“In my recently-launched philanthropic career, the ability to invest in Dreamers through the amazing program created by SNHU is the best investment I’ve found to date,” said Ed Shapiro, a Trustee of The Shapiro Foundation. “I’m confident these 1,000 young people will have an incredible impact on our nation.”

Don Graham, the Co-Founder of TheDream.US, also praised the project, saying that “through this partnership with SNHU, we will be able to serve the many DREAMers who do not have the option of attending a traditional on-campus college.

“These DREAMers work, have families, and simply do not have the resources nor flexibility to adjust their lives to a traditional college calendar,” he continued. “And yet, they want nothing more than to get a college education so they can better support themselves, their families, and their communities.”

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