Empowering undocumented young people to achieve educational and career goals
"INVEST IN THE DREAM" INITIATIVE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
PLEASE NOTE THAT E4FC IS NOT CURRENTLY ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR INVEST IN THE DREAM. The following FAQs, created for the 2016 application process, provide important information on the initiative's objectives and priorities.
What is E4FC? Founded in 2006, Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) is a San Francisco-based non-profit that empowers undocumented young people to pursue their dreams of college, career, and citizenship in the United States. Our programming is designed by and for undocumented young people with support from committed allies. We are a fiscally sponsored program of Community Initiatives. For more information about E4FC, please visit here.
Why did E4FC create the “Invest in the Dream” initiative? What does it hope to achieve?
E4FC believes that talented undocumented young people are vital to the long-term growth and prosperity of the United States, and that empowering them to achieve their academic and career goals and gain citizenship is essential to maximizing their contributions. We recognize that financial hardships make the goal of a college or graduate degree especially challenging for undocumented students. These students are ineligible for any federal aid; in a majority of states, they are also ineligible for state aid or the tuition and fee reductions that public colleges and universities offer to in-state residents. By offering matching grant funds to scholarship providers nationwide, we hope to expand opportunities for undocumented students to pursue higher education. Our goal is to incentivize scholarship providers to create new scholarship programs or expand current programs serving undocumented students.
Another important component of Invest in the Dream is the national learning community of grantee partners that we have created and nurtured. Through convenings, webinars and other learning opportunities, we are helping our grantee partners to increase financial aid, provide more holistic support and effectively advocate for undocumented students.
Beyond our grantee partners, we are helping to build a larger movement of allies and advocates who support undocumented students. These allies are sending a powerful message to their communities that undocumented students need and deserve broader support to help them achieve their educational goals.
What organizations are eligible to apply for grant funds?
E4FC will consider applications from community foundations and other community-based, non-profit scholarship providers that award scholarships to students pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies in the United States. To be eligible, scholarship providers must support students attending a variety of public or private colleges and universities.
E4FC will consider applications from anywhere in the United States, but we will prioritize organizations operating in states with restrictive laws that limit higher educational opportunities for undocumented students (e.g., states with no in-state tuition or no state-funded financial aid). In addition, we will favor applications from organizations that combine scholarships with academic support, mentoring, advising and other services that promote college access and degree completion.
Why did E4FC decide to exclude applications from colleges and universities this year?
This was a very difficult decision that reflects our two years of experience with Invest in the Dream. These were the key factors in our decision:
In our first two years, the strongest partnerships we've developed have been with community-based scholarship providers that are not affiliated with one institution of higher education.
Many of our community-based grantees are highly visible and very influential in their cities and states; others represent inspiring, volunteer-led grassroots efforts to support undocumented students.
These organizations support students attending many different institutions, helping us to spread our message widely and expand the reach of our scholarship funds.
Community-based scholarship providers have demonstrated a willingness and ability to revise their own policies, educate their boards, and advocate for public policy change in their states.
Many of the colleges and universities that have applied for Invest in the Dream grants already have substantial resources invested in supporting undocumented students.
We admire and appreciate the tremendous work that many colleges and universities are doing to support undocumented students and we regret the need to limit our applicant pool. However, in anticipation of another highly competitive application process this year, we believe this decision will help us focus on the strongest applications.
Why did E4FC decide to prioritize applications from states with hostile or restrictive laws?
Again, this reflects our experience from the first two years of Invest in the Dream. While we know that all undocumented students need our support, we see that some states are making the path easier by offering public financial aid to undocumented students or charging them tuition at lower, in-state rates. By favoring applications from states that don’t offer those opportunities, our goal is to support students with the greatest need and to validate scholarship providers working in challenging political environments.
What are the minimum and maximum amounts that we can apply for? E4FC recognizes that scholarship providers have different capacities to raise matching funds and manage scholarship programs, and we are seeking a diverse pool of matching partners. Applicants may request a minimum grant of $5,000 (requiring $5,000 in matching funds) up to a maximum grant of $50,000 (requiring $50,000 in matching funds).
When are proposals due?
E4FC is not currently accepting applications for Invest in the Dream.
How will E4FC choose matching grant recipients?
E4FC will manage a competitive review process that considers proposals from all eligible applicants before selecting a cohort of matching grant recipients. We will follow up with you to ask further questions. Grant decisions will be made by E4FC staff, with input and advice from the undocumented students we serve. Can we apply for a grant from E4FC to maintain our current level of scholarship giving for undocumented students?
No. You must use E4FC's grant and your own matching funds to initiate new scholarships or increase your current scholarship giving for undocumented students. For example, if you awarded $30,000 in scholarships to undocumented students last year and you request a $10,000 grant from E4FC, you must commit to awarding $50,000 in scholarships to undocumented students beginning in the 2017-2018 academic year ($30,000 baseline + $10,000 in new funding + $10,000 E4FC match).
How do we satisfy the matching requirement?
In your proposal, you must submit evidence showing that you have secured new funds or new funding commitments that equal the amount you request from us. Your matching funds can come from any source. For example, your organization could reallocate existing resources from a discretionary scholarship fund to support scholarships for undocumented students. You could identify private donors who pledge to contribute matching funds, or you could secure a letter of intent from a private foundation that commits to providing matching funds if your proposal to E4FC is approved. You don’t need to have the funds in hand before you apply, but you must identify the source of your matching funds and secure commitments for those funds before you submit your proposal to E4FC. Please contact us if you have further questions.
What process should we use to consider scholarship candidates?
E4FC recognizes that our grant applicants already have well-developed systems for considering scholarship candidates and selecting scholarship recipients. For this initiative, we encourage you to use the same process that works well for you already. While we encourage you to explicitly invite undocumented students to apply for scholarships, we recognize that this is a delicate issue that different matching partners may handle differently. We know that some scholarship providers do not directly inquire about citizenship status but gather information from interviews, personal statements, letters of recommendation or other sources. We will be respectful of our partners’ different approaches.
What students are eligible to receive scholarships?
Scholarships may be used to support undocumented undergraduate students attending accredited, non-profit, public or private, two-year or four-year colleges or universities in the United States or undocumented graduate students pursuing masters or doctoral degrees (including medical or law degrees) at accredited, non-profit, public or private colleges or universities in the United States. Scholarships may not be used to support students attending for-profit colleges, for-profit career academies or online postsecondary programs. Scholarships can support undocumented students at any point in their undergraduate or graduate studies. For example, scholarships can support entering first-year students, but can also support upper level undergraduate or graduate students. One potential strategy is to target scholarships to undocumented students transferring from two-year colleges to four-year colleges, when tuition costs rise and other scholarship support often declines.
Scholarships must support undocumented students registered for at least 6 credit hours per semester. Scholarships may support undocumented students of any age or national origin.
How does E4FC define the term “undocumented students”?
We define the term “undocumented students” broadly to include all immigrant students who reside in the United States without legal status, including all of the following categories:
Students who entered the country without inspection, entered presenting false documents or overstayed temporary visas and may now be considered “unlawfully present” in the United States.
Students who have been granted temporary reprieve from deportation through the federal government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Students who have been granted prosecutorial discretion through Deferred Action, Stay of Removal or various forms of temporary humanitarian relief but are unable to fully legalize their status.
We will work with our matching grant recipients to resolve specific eligibility questions and to ensure that all scholarship funds from this effort reach the intended audience of undocumented students.
Can we limit eligibility to DACA students?
We strongly encourage scholarship providers to consider all undocumented students for scholarships, but we understand that may not be possible. We will accept proposals from providers that limit eligibility to students who have received, applied for, or are eligible for DACA status.
Can we impose other conditions or limits on scholarship awards?
E4FC requires only that scholarship funds support undocumented students, as broadly defined above. We leave it to your discretion to further narrow that definition. Based on your current practice, donor preferences or other considerations, you may choose to limit scholarships to students who qualify for state aid; students who attend in-state colleges or universities; students who meet minimum GPA requirements; students who participate in academic advising or student support programs; or other criteria.
Should we encourage scholarship applicants to apply for other forms of financial aid?
Yes. You should encourage scholarship applicants to apply for all available forms of public, institutional or private financial aid. E4FC will favor proposals from scholarship providers that help undocumented students develop careful and realistic plans to manage educational costs.
When can we award scholarship funds to students?
Matching partners can use grant funds to award scholarships to undocumented students beginning in the 2017-18 academic year. By awarding grants in late 2016, we hope to give our partners time to develop or refine strategies for soliciting and considering scholarship applications from undocumented students in 2017.
Matching partners must select all scholarship recipients in 2017, but partners may disburse scholarship funds to recipients for up to three years, through the 2019-20 academic year. All grant funds must be expended by December 31, 2019. Any grant funds that remain unused by that date must be returned to E4FC.
What kinds of expenses can scholarship funds support?
Matching grant recipients can award scholarships to defray the cost of tuition, fees or other education-related expenses. While most scholarship providers choose to award scholarship funds to educational institutions, you may award funds directly to students or intermediaries with adequate oversight.
What kind of data collection and reporting will E4FC require?
E4FC will require matching grant recipients to submit one or more annual reports showing how scholarship funds are disbursed. We are also interested in learning whether scholarship recipients persist and earn degrees at higher rates than similar students who do not receive scholarships. We are currently working with our first cohort of grantees to examine best practices and develop realistic expectations for tracking student progress, persistence and graduation.
How does this initiative relate to TheDream.US scholarship program?
E4FC enthusiastically supports TheDream.US initiative, a substantial new pool of scholarship funds supporting some undocumented students, and we strongly encourage students and their advisers to learn more about the scholarship. Students should revisit the website frequently for important updates.
The Dream.US awards scholarships to first-time college students and community college graduates who enroll in one of the initiative's Partner Colleges, a group that includes over 70 two-year and four-year institutions in eleven states and a national online university. The Dream.US limits eligiblity to students who have obtained or applied for DACA status, or in certain cases, students with Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
In contrast, “Invest in the Dream” partners with existing scholarship providers, rather than inviting applications directly from students, and will support scholarships for students attending a wide variety of public and private colleges and universities.
Will the current legal and political battles over immigration affect this initiative?
No. We are closely following the legal and political issues surrounding immigration reform and the Trump Administration's executive actions on immigration, but they will not affect our efforts to support undocumented students pursuing higher education.
The "Invest in the Dream" initiative recognizes that undocumented students urgently need and deserve our support to pursue their dreams of higher education. We know that they will continue to face financial hardship and other barriers to academic advancement, degree completion and career success. We will work with our partners to provide that support, even in a changing legal and political environment.
What happens if there are changes to the enrollment or legal status of scholarship recipients?
We will work with our partners to manage issues that arise if scholarship recipients obtain legal status, discontinue their studies at approved institutions of higher education, or otherwise become ineligible for further scholarship support. In most cases, we assume that scholarship funds can be reallocated to other students.
Where can I learn more about undocumented students?
The E4FC website includes a wide variety of documents and resources to help you understand the experience of undocumented students, support them and advocate on their behalf. We encourage you to review: