READING, PA (September 26, 2016) – Berks County Community Foundation has received a $15,000 grant to support college scholarships for undocumented immigrant students.
The grant to the Greater Reading Immigration Project (GRIP) Dreamer Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation came from Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC), a San Francisco-based nonprofit that empowers undocumented young people to pursue their dreams of college, career and citizenship in the United States.
GRIP has already raised an equal amount from local donors to match the grant.
Lilibeth Tinoco, 18, a 2016 Reading High School graduate, was one of 18 students who shared a total of almost $30,000 in scholarships this year from the fund at the Community Foundation.
She is a full-time student at Reading Area Community College and plans to eventually go on to become a veterinarian.
Her parents brought her to the United States when she was very young. She has no memories of her family’s life in Mexico and considers Reading to be her hometown.
In her application for the scholarship, Lilibeth recalled her heartbreak upon learning her undocumented status.
“I felt like a complete outcast,” she wrote. “I lived in constant fear, fear that even tormented me in my dreams. I would wake up crying, scared that one day someone would just come up to me and take me away.”
She also worried her immigration status would preclude her from being able to attend and pay for college. But now with the GRIP scholarship, Lilibeth is making progress.
She said she’s grateful to all of GRIP’s volunteers and donors.
“I thank them so much,” she said.
The GRIP Dreamer Scholarship Fund was established at Berks County Community Foundation in 2012 to support college scholarships for students who are not eligible for federal or state financial aid.
The grant from E4FC was one of 11 matching grants totaling $250,000 that E4FC awarded nationwide through its Invest in the Dream initiative.
“We hope this initiative will encourage other scholarship providers to deepen their investment in this talented and determined group of young people,” said Katharine Gin, co-founder and executive director of E4FC.
“These students deserve this chance,” said Myrna Fuchs, a GRIP volunteer and a college and career consultant who works as a private contractor and also as an advisor at Olivet Boys & Girls Club. “Too many students have had to give up or defer their dreams of going to college. But this is the only home they know. To keep them from seeking higher education is wrong.”