Blog: Latino Ed Beat

‘Dream Project’ Helps Undocumented Students

The Virginia-based nonprofit “Dream Project” provides counseling and scholarships to undocumented immigrant students so they can attend college.

The group is especially important because Virginia does not offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants. The program offers mentoring, professional and academic activities and scholarships of about $1,000-$2,000 to deserving students.

Recipients of The Dream Project Scholarship must be enrolled in a private or public Virginia high school or completed their GED in Virginia and have been born outside of the United States or have a parent born outside of the U.S.

They also must have persevered to overcome challenges and achieve academic success and plan on attending a college or university.

The Washington Post reports that the group was co-founded four years ago by Arlington, Va., school board member and Georgetown University professor Emma Violand-Sanchez. At first, the mentors were Georgetown University students. Students meet at the Arlington Public Schools office with mentors and teachers.

“You deliver these children to the world, and then what happens?” asked Lourdes Rubio, a counselor and volunteer, told the Post. “I think it’s our responsibility to at least give them a platform where they can stand after they graduate.”

The program is small in scale. According to the article, last year the group awarded 29 scholarships and this year 17 students are in the mentoring program. It has enabled undocumented students to bond with others in their situation.

A growing number of universities are awarding institutional scholarships to undocumented students. The Hispanic Scholarship Fund also opened up scholarships to undocumented students granted deferred status this year. (Check out The Esperanza Education Fund for more.)

Does your local school district offer special support to undocumented students? If you cover higher education, does your local university or college provide financial aid to undocumented students?