PowerPost Jeff Bezos Donates $33 Million to Scholarship Fund for ‘dreamers’

Style Magazine Newswire | 1/12/2018, 8:54 a.m.
Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, announced Friday that he is donating $33 million ...
Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House on May 5, 2016. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Source: Washington Post

Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, announced Friday that he is donating $33 million to a scholarship fund for young “dreamers,” immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

The donation from the world’s wealthiest person comes amid fresh pressure from business leaders as talks on Capitol Hill over how to resolve the legal status of dreamers are foundering. The White House and some GOP lawmakers rejected a tentative deal from a bipartisan Senate group on Thursday — the same day President Trump made incendiary remarks about people from developing countries.

Bezos, who is the richest person in the world, and his wife, MacKenzie, will be donating the sum to TheDream.US, a scholarship program that has awarded more than 1,700 immigrants more than $19 million in financial assistance since it launched in 2014.

The money will help fund 1,000 college scholarships and is the largest donation yet to a fund established by Donald E. Graham, the former publisher of The Post who sold the company to Bezos in 2013.

Graham launched TheDream.US with Henry R. Muñoz III, the finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee, and Carlos Gutierrez, who served as commerce secretary under President George W. Bush.

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 in a statement. “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 donation “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,” said Candy Marshall, president of TheDream.US. “We would invite anyone who questions the value of Dreamers to please come meet some of our students.”

The group previously has received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Inter-American Development Bank, Patty Stonesifer and Michael Kinsley, among others.

[From 2016: Scholarship for undocumented students ‘locked out’ of college in home states]

Trump plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in March unless Congress replaces it. The Obama-era program provides temporary legal protections to roughly 700,000 dreamers.

Democrats, under intense pressure from immigrant advocates, are trying to use their leverage to force a long-sought immigration deal as part of talks to keep the government open beyond a Jan. 19 spending deadline.

In a bid to bolster the negotiations, more than 100 corporate leaders this week co-signed a letter to Congress calling for immediate legal relief to dreamers. The corporate leaders said, “The imminent termination of the DACA program is creating an impending crisis for workforces across the country.”