Dinner raises money for scholarship for undocumented students
Penn for Immigrant Rights raised over $1,700 at their Sunday dinner
September 8, 2013, 8:31 pm · Updated September 8, 2013, 11:17 pm·
Professionals and leaders at Penn and in Philadelphia dined with Penn for Immigrant Rights Sunday night to raise money for a college scholarship that will help undocumented high school students.
Although this was the first effort to raise scholarship funds, the dinner was a success, PIR executive director and Wharton senior Jose Gonzalez said. They received about $1,700 —$500 more than their original goal.
Further fundraising efforts, including another dinner in November, will continue throughout the academic year to reach the ultimate goal of $5,500.
To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants need to be a resident of Philadelphia, show proof of enrollment in a two- or four-year college program and demonstrate financial need.
Students can begin applying for the scholarship as soon as spring 2014. After evaluation by the executive board of PIR, recipients will receive the scholarship in the form of a check mailed directly to the college institution.
Gonzalez explained that since this idea is a new initiative, there would most likely only be one recipient for the scholarship.
Since undocumented students are ineligible for many forms of financial aid because they lack the proper legal documents, the scholarship is being created to help them pay for a college education.
According to Gonzalez, the idea was inspired by last year’s Collegiate Alliance for Immigration Reform Conference when the Princeton DREAM Team talked about their own fundraising efforts for a scholarship.
“We thought it was a great idea and decided we had a lot of resources in Philadelphia that could help us do something similar,” Gonzalez said.
The fundraiser dinner was sponsored by Tequilas restaurant and Siembra azul, a foundation that works toward increasing the availability of educational opportunities and greater accessibility to healthcare services for local groups.
PIR met with Tequilas owner David Suro and the Philadelphia Foundation, a local community foundation that manages charitable funds, to learn about the process of creating a scholarship.
College senior and PIR University Engagement Chair Gionni Ponce said this is a “proactive step” on PIR’s part to try to provide resources for undocumented students.
“It’s an opportunity to let students know that they can go to college and that there are people out there who are interested in them,” Ponce said.
Diana Cabrera, a College sophomore and member of the scholarship committee, emphasized the importance of raising awareness of available resources and opportunities. She said, “the struggles that undocumented students faced weren’t being discussed,” and this prompted them to create the scholarship.
A total of nine guests attended the dinner, including Penn alumni and faculty, local nonprofit leaders, business owners and other professionals.
“They were very interested in the cause,” Gonzalez said. “We are happy to say we had a positive response from many invitees and look forward to their support to this cause in the future.”
PIR is also planning to host the first Immigrant Scholarship Gala in spring 2014.
“We hope that as the endowment grows, we will be able to give more scholarships in bigger amounts from one year to the next,” Gonzalez added.