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UC Berkeley Receives $1 Million Gift for DREAMer Scholarships from Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

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You have to love a press release that includes a line like this:

UC Berkeley is leading the nation in assisting its students who are undocumented.

It’s especially great to read when it’s true. There’s a lot happening at the University of California-Berkeley — including $1,000,000 gift for DREAMers scholarships, thanks to the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund:

Uriel Rivera overcame a maze of obstacles to be in the United States, not the least of which was living in the shadows of society as an undocumented immigrant. He excelled academically, volunteered in the community, had a vision of helping others and earned admission to the world’s greatest public university.

But his dreams were nearly dashed because his status barred him from applying for publicly funded scholarships, grants or loans.

Those dreams may get back on track soon, thanks in part to the announcement today (Tuesday, Dec. 11) that the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund has awarded $1 million to UC Berkeley for scholarships for undocumented students — a life changer for students like Rivera. This is the single-largest gift for scholarships of this type at a U.S. university.

The gift will assist the nearly 200 undocumented students at UC Berkeley from 20 different countries who currently qualify, and will help more in the future. These students are not eligible for federal Pell grants, federally backed loans or work-study positions. Their average family income is $24,000.

This is a great development. Last year, California passed its own version of the DREAM Act, which allowed students to apply for financial aid benefits (state DREAMers have been allowed to pay in-state tuition since 2001). And in June, President Obama issued the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) policy, which granted immigrant youth nationwide temporary protection from deportation and access to work permits. Both are changing the lives of young immigrants, and those young immigrants are leading the charge for real reform that includes a path to citizenship for their families.

So, kudos to the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund and UC Berkeley.

And, check out the video of Berkeley DREAMer Ju Hong: