How Micro-Grants Make a Macro Difference

The college experience has changed dramatically over the years. When many Boomer women went to college, junior year abroad was a dream reserved for only the wealthiest of students. Women came into college on a pretty even footing from high schools all over the nation. Some women worked past marriage, but many still chose to give up career dreams in exchange for family life and volunteer work. Conferences and seminars were things that one attended in the post-graduate work world, not in college.

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Fast forward. Today’s young women start college from dramatically different platforms. Even in rural areas, educational opportunities abound that simply weren’t fathomable years ago. High school students have completed basic college work before they actually hit campus. They’ve held internships in corporations. Those interested in medical careers attend magnet high schools, where they do rotations through large city hospitals, getting hands-on patient experience. Some are fortunate enough to do medical missionary work in developing countries or be part of research teams. And that’s all in high school. Imagine what college will bring!

These accelerated experiences are basic footing for many careers. In order to secure a well-paying job post graduation, international experience is a requirement in many fields. And while tuition costs are much the same as those years spent on campus, the extra expenses of living abroad are much greater.

Many corporations won’t consider those who haven’t gotten real-world experience as summer interns. While some internships are now paid, many are not. How does a young woman pay bills while working, essentially, for free?

Educational conferences and seminars outside of the college experience give opportunities for learning and networking prior to graduation. They are invaluable, but they are also extremely expensive. And for young women on a tight budget, they are often unattainable.

That’s where 1000 Dreams Fund goes to work. We provide micro-grants to young women attending college. The grants range from a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars. The grants don’t pay their way through school – they fund the extras that allow them to stay in school and graduate.

In the “Hidden Costs of College” report, underwritten by Charles Schwab, 73% of respondents said that extracurriculars like studying abroad and unpaid internships were important to reaching their professional goals. The same number – 73% – said that they had to turn those opportunities down due to a lack of money.

Ashlie, a college graduate and 1000 Dreams Fund grant recipient says, I used the funding to help fund my plane ticket expenses for studying abroad. One round trip ticket to Bishkek costs upwards of $2,000. My dream is to help with international issues. Unless I have significant time in a foreign country, Kyrgyzstan, and learning a foreign language, Russian, I would be ill-equipped to meet that goal.”

There are hundreds, thousands of young women like Ashlie who just need a small financial boost to stay in college. If you’d like to know more about them and the impact 1000 Dreams Fund has had in their lives, please click here. If you’d like to become one of our funders, please click here. Just a small amount of assistance helps dreams become reality for our young women.

Christie Garton, Founder & CEO of the 1,000 Dreams Fund