Wal-Mart Foundation Donates $500,000 to Support Scholarship America’s® Dreamkeepers Program
Program expands emergency financial aid program; helps low-income students overcome unexpected emergencies to stay in school
MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 2008 – The Wal-Mart Foundation today made a $500,000 commitment to the Scholarship America® Dreamkeepers Emergency Financial Aid program. The Dreamkeepers program addresses the high dropout rates of community college students when faced with an unexpected crisis.
“A sudden health care crisis, reduction in work hours or family emergency can quickly derail the efforts of low-income students striving to get a college education,” said Dr. Clifford Stanley, president and CEO of Scholarship America. “Emergency financial aid can make the difference between reaching their dreams and dropping out of higher education. We thank Wal-Mart Foundation for supporting this important initiative.”
The Dreamkeepers program was started by Scholarship America in 2005 with a grant from Lumina Foundation for Education, an Indianapolis-based private foundation dedicated to expanding access to and success in education beyond high school. Today, Scholarship America administers the program at 11 community colleges throughout the country. The colleges were chosen because they enroll large numbers of low-income students and students of color – groups with high rates of attrition that have traditionally been underserved by the education system. Funding from the Wal-Mart Foundation will expand the emergency financial aid program to additional community colleges located in Wal-Mart’s opportunity zones.
In its first two years, the program delivered dramatic results that changed people’s lives. The Dreamkeepers program provided nearly $595,393 to 1,566 students – easing student worries about housing, food, utilities, tuition, books, transportation, child care and medical needs. The result was a significant impact on attrition rates. In 2005, 64 percent of students re-enrolled or graduated after receiving assistance; in 2006, retention rates went up to 85 percent at participating schools, with three colleges reporting retention of 90 percent or higher.
“The Wal-Mart Foundation is pleased to support and expand the work of Scholarship America’s Dreamkeepers program. Dreamkeepers gives the colleges the ability to give promising students a helping hand when it feels like the world is conspiring against their dreams of a college degree,” said Margaret McKenna, president of the Wal-Mart Foundation.
“College education is the ticket to a better life, especially for disadvantaged students working their way toward better jobs and more security.”
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