Parsons Foundation awards grant to ASU for DACA recipients

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The ASU Foundation received a three-year, $937,000 grant from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation in support of 35 scholarships for students who are considered recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.

These students are young immigrants living in the country illegally who were brought to the U.S. as children. These recipients do not have legal status but rather have temporary protection from deportation and permission to legally work.

Former President Barack Obama established the administrative program in 2012 with an expansion in 2014. President Donald Trump’s administration rescinded the expansion in 2017 and created plans to phase out the program as a whole in 2018 if Congress did not pass legislation.

The program is at the center of a Supreme Court case. While the case goes on, DACA recipients can renew their status but the government is not accepting new applications.

The term “Dreamer” comes from a proposal in Congress, which it never passed, called the DREAM Act. This would’ve established similar protections for young immigrants under the same criteria.

In Arizona, DACA recipients are not eligible for in-state tuition and at a federal level, are not eligible for financial aid or work-study programs.

The grant, according to a press release, will provide tuition assistance and establish the Parsons Scholars program, which will include financial literacy training and ongoing academic coaching.

“By no fault of their own, Dreamers are starting their pursuit of higher education at a great disadvantage,” businessman Bob Parsons said in a prepared statement.

“America is a nation of immigrants, and it is our duty to step up and support those who are working hard to earn a better life for themselves and their families, no matter how they got here.”

Many of the Parsons Scholars come from low-income households and work full or part-time jobs to support themselves, and in many cases, their families, a release claims. Most are first-generation college students.

The goal of the tuition gap funding provided to the Parsons Scholars is to mitigate the risk of a DACA recipient leaving school due to financial hardships.

“ASU has long supported Dreamers, a position that is congruent with our unwavering commitment to providing access to all students who are qualified to attend the university, regardless of their background or circumstance,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said in a prepared statement.

“Bob and Renee Parsons’ support will help more deserving students have an opportunity to attend the university and enhance their opportunity for a successful future.”

The program is also designed to prepare students for long-term success and encourages co-curricular activities, such as internships, to provide students with the skills and connections needed to enter their chosen career field.

A capstone trip to Washington, D.C. hopes to connect the Parsons Scholars to public policy and empower them to enact change, a release states.

“It is our belief that everyone deserves access to quality education and DREAMers are no exception. In fact, they face more obstacles to obtaining a college degree than most of their peers,” businesswoman Renee Parsons said in a prepared statement.

“We are proud to support ASU’s commitment to making higher education a reality for all Arizona high school graduates.”

The ASU Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization that raises and invests private contributions to the university. Through the ASU Foundation, generous donors help build and sustain Arizona State University’s students, faculty and research goals.

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