MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Miami Dade College has long supported undocumented teens, who were brought to the U.S. as children, who now live here illegally and want to go to college.

On Tuesday, the college became the biggest recipient of a new private scholarship program aimed at helping immigrant youth.

Former Washington Post owner Donald E. Graham, who co-founded TheDream.US, joined College President Eduard Padron at Miami’s historic Freedom Tower to present the awards to 22 Miami Dade students. Another 17 youth nationwide also will receive the support in this inaugural batch of scholarships.

Graham said he became interested in helping the Dreamers after working with youth in Washington, D.C., public schools, encouraging them to attend college. Each year, the number of students unable to afford college because of their immigration status grew.

“There was always this one group of students that could not go. First it was five, then it was 10, then it was 75 to 100 even in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

Youth brought to the country as children and who now live here illegally — so-called Dreamers — are not eligible for federal grants, and in many states must pay out-of-state tuition.

Philanthropist Henry Munoz III and for U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez also co-founded the group last June and tapped Miami Dade alumna and Dreamer activist Gabby Pacheco as its program director. TheDream.US provides scholarships of up to $25,000 in aid and has raised $25 million, Graham said.

Award recipient Federico Paseiro, 20, whose father buses tables at a Miami hotel, is using his scholarship to study business administration and hospitality management.

“I still can’t believe I went from not knowing what path was open to me two years ago to now getting a scholarship to go to college,” said Paseiro, who began classes last month.

Miami Dade has long supported college access for qualified youth living in the country illegally. It is one of a small number of Florida schools that provides them in-state tuition.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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