Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla said Wednesday they would donate $5 million to give scholarships to 400 undocumented Bay Area students.
The money is being donated to TheDream.US, a group founded by former Washington Post publisher Donald Graham in 2013. Their mission is to help students born outside the U.S. pay for their education; as non-citizens they cannot access student loan programs.
“Hundreds of thousands of young immigrants are part of our communities and attend school legally in the United States,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his site. “Many of them moved to America early in their lives and can’t remember living anywhere else. They want to remain in the country they love and be a part of America’s future. But without documentation, it’s often a struggle to get a college education, and they don’t have access to any kind of federal aid.”
According to the University of Texas, there were over 2.2 million undocumented students in the U.S. in 2010; of those, no more than 10 percent went on to college. Until a recent program enacted by President Obama, many were at risk of deportation.
Zuckerberg has shown a keen interest in immigration reform, having launched a hackathon for undocumented young adults in 2013, and spent millions on lobbying in favor of more liberal immigration policies.
“Over the coming years, our hope is to prepare hundreds of students to graduate with associate or bachelor’s degrees so they can build meaningful new careers,” Zuckerberg said.
His announcement comes just a few days after TheDream.US announced its “I’m In” campaign asking America’s wealthiest to boost funding for the program. Graham and billionaire hedge funder each pledged $15 million to fund education for 1,200 undocumented students.
Earlier this week, members of the Young American Dreamers organization were escorted out of Jeb Bush’s announcement that he would be running for president. Bush was forced to go off script to address their presence, saying he would “pass meaningful immigration reform so that that will be solved,” but didn’t elaborate.