Governor Quinn tonight will headline an event in Chicago to support college scholarships for Illinois' DREAMers -- high school graduates from immigrant families who wish to attend college. The Governor fought for the Illinois DREAM Act in 2011 to create the scholarship program to provide more opportunities for qualified students from immigrant families to attend college. Today's event is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to make Illinois the most welcoming state in the nation while ensuring all people have the opportunity to follow their dreams and reach their full potential.
"Nothing should stand in the way of a deserving student and a college education," Governor Quinn said. "The Illinois DREAM Fund is just getting started in paving the way for students in Illinois' immigrant community to attend college, secure a degree and pursue the American Dream. One day we'll look back and see that this law changed the lives of many Illinois students who wouldn't have otherwise had the opportunity."
In the program's inaugural year, the Illinois DREAM Fund provided scholarships to 36 students. Applicants to the DREAM Fund are current high school seniors planning to attend an accredited public/private non-profit -- two year (junior college/community college) or four year institution.
"Empowering dreamers to reach their full potential is not just the right thing to do, their success benefits our communities and economy," Representative Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) said. "The Illinois Dream Fund helps deserving immigrant students by providing the extra funds they need to earn a diploma and unlock the door to a promising future. I thank Governor Quinn for his steadfast support for this initiative and his leadership on behalf of immigrant communities across Illinois."
Since taking office, Governor Quinn has been a strong advocate for immigrants' rights, including his efforts to enact the Illinois Dream Act and make Illinois the first state to require bilingual education programs to be available for non-English speaking students beginning in pre-school.
Last year the Governor signed a historic new law to ensure every Illinois motorist -- regardless of their background -- is properly licensed to drive. The law ensures everyone can learn the rules of the road, pass a driving test and get car insurance by allowing the Secretary of State to issue temporary driver's licenses to applicants who have resided in Illinois for more than a year but who are not eligible for a social security number. Governor Quinn was also one of the first Governors in the nation to stand up against the federal government's Secure Communities Initiative to protect families from deportation.
As part of Governor Pat Quinn's agenda to make Illinois the nation's most welcoming state, he created the Governor's Office of New Americans to provide services, build partnerships and spearhead legislation to improve the integration of Illinois' two million immigrants. The Governor has also more than doubled the number of Illinois Welcoming Centers, which provide a wide range of services to newcomers. The Governor has also dedicated $8.4 million to support affordable housing for Latino students and increased the participation of minority- and women-owned firms in state contracts by nearly 60 percent.