Amid ongoing litigation around the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Golden Door Scholars, a nonprofit based in the greater Charlotte, NC area, announced today that, for the first time, it will award college scholarships this year to high-achieving undocumented students without DACA. Founded in 2013, Golden Door Scholars partners with colleges and universities to create educational opportunity for undocumented students. Since its inception, it has awarded scholarships to 360 students in 31 states. This year, the program is expanding beyond DACA to offer scholarship opportunities to all undocumented students.
“Nearly 100,000 undocumented students graduate high school each year but now cannot apply for DACA, and they are losing hope for the life they have worked so hard for,” said Ric Elias, founder of Golden Door Scholars and CEO of Red Ventures, a Charlotte-area based portfolio of digital companies. “Given the current situation, we are taking an aggressive stance against this injustice. Tough times test leadership, and we hope others with public voices or power will do the same.”
The decision for Golden Door Scholars to expand scholarships beyond DACA students comes amid increasing insecurity around the program and fear across undocumented populations. Three federal courts have issued nationwide injunctions against President Trump’s 2017 termination of DACA, and the Supreme Court is due to review those cases in the coming term. In the meantime, DACA students can renew their application, but there is a moratorium on additional applications. In addition, undocumented students and their families have seen an increase in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids across the country.
“Our system is profoundly failing these students,” continued Elias. “Hope has an expiration date. We are doing whatever we can to extend that date for undocumented students who want to pursue their dreams.”
The future for students in the U.S. is uncertain: DACA may continue to be inaccessible to first-time applicants, or it may be dismantled entirely. Nevertheless, Golden Door will remain committed to supporting undocumented students - both those with DACA and those without - and providing them with a platform to obtain a bachelor’s degree and pursue their personal and career dreams. The program also provides personal and professional development opportunities through one-on-one mentorship and summer internships.
In July, the program continued spreading hope and opportunity as its scholars gathered in Charlotte for the annual “Hope Triumphs” Golden Door Summit. “Golden Door will continue to support future scholars who remain committed to obtaining a bachelor’s degree and contributing back to their communities,” said Kacey Grantham, executive director of Golden Door Scholars. “I have great hope for our students. I believe they can and will change the world.”
“Without Golden Door I would not be in college; the access to education and mentorship support I receive reaffirms that I am more than my status,” said Maria Peralta Porras, a scholar at Guilford College. “Today, my younger brother along with thousands of other undocumented students face the reality of trying to reach a higher education without DACA. It is an upsetting reality and I am excited Golden Door has opened its doors to all undocumented students.”
How to Apply
Interested students should review eligibility guidelines and apply at https://www.goldendoorscholars.org/apply-now by Sept. 30.
About Golden Door Scholars
Golden Door Scholars is a nonprofit founded in 2013 to invest in education and career access for high-performing undocumented students. Golden Door currently supports 293 scholars attending schools such as Wake Forest University, Emory University, and Wofford College. The program has 67 graduates pursuing graduate degrees or working at companies such as Ernst & Young, Apple, Samsung, and the ACLU.
Learn more at www.goldendoorscholars.org.
About Ric Elias
Ric Elias is the CEO and co-founder of Red Ventures and the founder of four nonprofit organizations: Golden Door Scholars, Rebuild Puerto Rico, LifeSports, and Road to Hire. Elias was a survivor of Flight 1549, an event which led to his widely-viewed TED Talk “3 things I learned while my plane crashed.”
Learn more at https://www.redventures.com/leadership.html.