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A Scholarship America analysis of the past three years found that 95.5 percent of its Dreamkeepers grant recipients successfully completed the term in which they received emergency assistance.
Because financial emergencies are a primary cause of stalled post-secondary education, Scholarship America designed the Dreamkeepers program in 2004 to help community college students manage unforeseen financial emergencies, such as costs associated with health or transportation, while maintaining enrollment. In 2011-12, the average emergency grant was $414.
Jeremiah Rotich of Minneapolis, Minn. received a Dreamkeepers grant to help cover the cost of an urgent car repair, allowing him to stay enrolled at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. He went on to graduate in 2012.
“I had a vision for myself and my family. I wanted the best for all of us. To me, that meant access to a quality education,” said Rotich. “If I had not received the financial assistance I would not have been able to cover our expenses. Thankfully, I’m now graduated and looking to a future in nonprofit management.”
Although Scholarship America is unable to track the overall graduation rates of participating schools, the term completion rate data suggests that the Dreamkeepers grants may be helping to combat the national community college dropout rate of about 50 percent.
What’s more, in many cases Dreamkeepers grants are helping lead students to other forms of assistance, such as on-campus food shelves or social worker consultation. A student’s inquiry about Dreamkeepers grants is often the first sign of financial distress; grant administrators can direct students to additional aid, ensuring students are able to continue on the path toward graduation.
“In 2004, we noticed a major dilemma: students were not finishing college because of unexpected bills that hindered completion. Financial emergencies were hurting education,” said Lauren Segal, president of Scholarship America. “We developed the Dreamkeepers program to help students overcome emergency financial obstacles that blocked their path to success. An analysis of the past three years indicates that these grants truly keep students on track.”
This success is due, in part, to Scholarship America’s focus on increasing colleges’ capacity to administer the program, fundraise and raise awareness for grants. A newly developed online application system, paired with additional training and fundraising tools have spurred success that is expected to sustain itself among participating schools.
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About Scholarship America
Scholarship America mobilizes support for students getting into and graduating from college. Since 1958, Scholarship America has distributed more than $2.9 billion in scholarship assistance to more than 1.9 million students, funding both entry-level and multi-year scholarships and emergency financial grants. More information is available at scholarshipamerica.org.
Scholarship America’s Dream Award is a renewable scholarship fund targeted toward completion. These annually-increasing awards will be given to students selected from across the nation who are entering their second year of education beyond high school.
Scholarship America's blog, The Scholarship Coach, appears weekly at USNews.com, featuring expert advice on all kinds of scholarship issues. Here on the site, we feature a new highlight from the blog every week, and you can also download a free Scholarship Coach e-book!
Nearly 1/4 of the U.S. population owes a collective $700 billion in student loan debt. We are committed to helping more students graduate from college with less debt. A gift of just $1 a day -- for a week, for a month, or for a year -- can help ensure that students are able to achieve their goals.