Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and wife Mackenzie on Friday donated $33 million in scholarship assistance to members of the DACA program. File Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool | License Photo
Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced Friday he will support students protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program with $33 million in scholarships.
Bezos and wife MacKenzie's donation will fund 1,000 scholarships -- since the program's "Dreamers" are not eligible for federal financial aid.
"My dad came to the U.S. when he was 16 as part of Operation Pedro Pan," Jeff Bezos said.
"He landed in this country alone and unable to speak English. With a lot of grit and determination -- and the help of some remarkable organizations in Delaware -- my dad became an outstanding citizen, and he continues to give back to the country that he feels blessed him in so many ways. MacKenzie and I are honored to be able to help today's Dreamers by funding these scholarships."
The organization Bezos donated to, TheDream.us, partners with low-cost colleges in 15 states to help 800,000 DACA recipients pay for college.
"Our students are highly motivated and determined to succeed in college and in life. We're a three-and-a-half-year-old program, so we don't yet have graduation rates," Candy Marshall, president of TheDream.us, said.
Other donors to the initiative include Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; the Pershing Square Foundation; the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; Bloomberg Philanthropies; Pierre and Pam Omidyar; the Robin Hood Foundation; The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation; the Ford Foundation; the PepsiCo Foundation; the Coca-Cola Foundation and Don, Bill and Steve Graham.
"Everyone who believes in education and is a friend of the Dreamers would like to thank Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos for this magnificent gift," Marshall added. "It is a shot in the arm for Dreamer students at a time when some are questioning whether they should be in the United States at all."
Bezos and 100 other business leaders co-signed a letter to Congress last week calling for legal relief for DACA members after President Donald Trump announced his administration would end the program.