Jeff Bezos donates $33 million to help Dreamers attend college


Amid intense talks in Washington over the fate of undocumented students in the USA with legal protection, Jeff Bezos - Amazon founder and CEO, Washington Post owner and frequent target of President Trump - and his wife MacKenzie donated $33 million to a scholarship program that helps thousands of immigrant teens pay for college.

Bezos, whose father came to the USA from Cuba, said the donation will help fund the college tuition of a thousand young immigrants who are now pursing higher education.

In a statement announcing the donation, Bezos cited the story of his adopted father, who left Cuba as part of Operation Pedro Pan.

"He landed in this country alone and unable to speak English", Bezos said.

The donation comes as tensions over protections for Dreamers are rising in Washington, D.C. - in September, President Trump unveiled a plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, which gives Dreamers limited legal status.

"MacKenzie and I are honored to be able to help today's Dreamers by funding these scholarships", he added.

TheDream.US partners with more than 70 low-priced colleges in 15 states. Each student receives $33,000 over four years to pay for college tuition, fees and books, the organization said. 2,850 students are now enrolled in college under the program.

Dreamers don't qualify for federal grants, loans, and can't get government backed financial aid in 44 states, but with his private donation, Bezos is making aid available. Almost 3,000 students are now part of TheDream.US program.

While TheDream.US organization is not old enough to have graduation rates, it says its scholars are thriving academically, noting that 94 percent return to college after their first year, while the national average is just 72 percent.

"Everyone who believes in education and is a friend of the Dreamers would like to thank Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos for this magnificent gift", said President of TheDream.US Candy Marshall.

Bezos said the grant will allow some 1,000 undocumented high school students to attend college. "We would invite anyone who questions the value of Dreamers to please come meet some of our students". The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Pershing Square Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative are also among the other major contributors to the program.