Learning the Way: DACA, Educational Attainment, and Philanthropy

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ADVISORY (Nov. 11, 2016) - Before consulting this resource, please first review the resource page we have assembled on how to proceed given the possible cancellation of the DACA program. In particular, consider United We Dream's recommendations, Immigrant Legal Resource Center's factsheet, and National Immigration Law Center's guidance, all of which address issues for DACA beneficiaries and would-be applicants.

For more than two million youth and young adults in the United States, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) offers first-time access to the American Dream. These individuals have had American childhoods—attending local schools, worshipping in area congregations, and volunteering in community groups—but cannot realize their full potential as adults because they came to the United States without documentation as minors. Successfully applying for DACA lifts many of these barriers: it earns beneficiaries temporary legal status, eligibility for a work permit, and in some states, a driver’s license, among other benefits.

Nearly 800,000 immigrants – more than a third of those who are potentially eligible – have successfully applied for DACA. Yet, more than one million youth and young adults have yet to send in an application, including over 400,000 individuals who meet all but the program’s educational requirements, namely: to be enrolled in, or have completed, high school or another qualifying program.

Philanthropy has a timely opportunity to transform these young immigrants’ futures—and support the prosperity of the communities they call home—by helping them to meet DACA’s educational criteria and access additional post-secondary education and training. Funders can help unlock DACA’s long-term benefits—including new jobs, increased earnings, higher-skilled workers, first-time access to health care, and more—for thousands of youth and young adults across the United States.