Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Give the Dream nets $80,000 for emergency grants to East County college students

Give the Dream volunteers at Grossmont Center
Give the Dream, a two-day event throughout East County, has netted about $80,000 in donations that will benefit Grossmont and Cuyamaca college students whose dream of a college education can be imperiled by a financial emergency.

Events were held March 14 and 16 to raise money for the Dreamkeepers program at the two East County colleges. Dreamkeepers provides emergency grants of up to $500 to students who face a crisis such as car problems, medical issues, or an unexpected bill that could force them to drop out of college. The money raised through Give the Dream will provide funding for scholarships in 2013-14 and begin an endowment of the program.

“We are so grateful to the residents and businesses of East County who showed their support for our students by contributing to Give the Dream,” said Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.

Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges are two of 43 colleges in America that participate in Dreamkeepers. The program was created by Scholarship America, a Minneapolis-based organization that has helped more than 2 million students achieve their dream of a college education. In addition to financial assistance, students who receive a Dreamkeepers grant also get resources that help them build their money-management skills.

Events were held Saturday, March 16, at Grossmont Center in La Mesa, Parkway Plaza in El Cajon and at Santee Trolley Square in Santee. Shoppers were treated to music and participated in contests, while crafts tables were set up so that children could make their own dream catchers.

Give the Dream received major sponsorship from the Jerry Lester Foundation, Wells Fargo, Walmart, Grossmont Center, Barona Resort and Casino, Scholarship America, Grossmont Healthcare Center, Sharp Grossmont Hospital, Elks Lodge #1812; EDCO; the Viejas band of Kumeyaay Indians, the Sycuan band of the Kumeyaay Nation, the La Mesa law firm of Fischbeck & Oberndorfer, Drew Ford, and California Coast Credit Union.

Campus fundraising rallies were also held March 14 at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges, where students and staff listened to music and enjoyed a Mexican lunch.

At Cuyamaca College, Cindy Rittershofer of La Mesa dropped by the campus to donate $1,000 to the cause. Rittershofer, a member of the local chapter of the American Association of University Women, said she wanted to help college students.

"I wanted to do it for the students," Rittershofer said. "If they're struggling, if they need to have their car repaired, this can help. They are our resource and our future."

The events are part of an effort to establish an endowment for the Dreamkeepers program so that it can be self-sustaining. Donations can still be made by going to the Give the Dream website at www.givethedream.net. Donations can also be made by texting DREAM to 80888 for a $10 donation that will show up on your phone bill, or by texting DREAMS and the amount of your choice to 41444.