A chapter of the Dreamers Scholarship Council formed this semester at USC and aims to provide scholarship money to low-income high school and college students by raising funds for scholarships.
The student-led nonprofit chapter hopes to start off by providing a $1,500 scholarship to a second-, third- or fourth-year USC student. The group is intending to launch a scholarship application on Oct. 2, 2019 and announce a winner in late December.
The scholarship money mostly comes from fundraising with occasional allocations from the main branch of the organization.
The USC chapter is the first-ever campus chapter of the Dreamers Scholarship Council, founded by Avion Mahoney, a second-year accounting and finance student. Mahoney originally pitched the idea while she was in freshman council.
"I am a first generation college student. I was blessed enough to get a full ride to USC, and when I was applying for numerous scholarships during my senior year in high school, when I was being awarded scholarships, I was just like, 'Wow. I want to make people feel like this,'" Mahoney said.
Universities offer a variety of financial aid and scholarship opportunities, but some students said these scholarships are not always enough, as many students still struggle with paying for their education.
Second-year political science and global studies student Kennedy Henderson met Mahoney through freshman council and helped start the chapter on campus.
"I do pay for college out of pocket and I know the stresses that come with that, so to be able to be a part of providing somebody with just a little bit of money in their tuition payment is enough for me to feel like I did my job," Henderson said.
Henderson said she hopes to help fully establish the organization on the USC campus by the end of the school year and encourage the establishment of Dreamers Scholarship Council chapters on other campuses.
"Our long-term goal for this year is just to be established as an organization and hopefully look within the SEC to kind of charter new organizations, our club on their campuses, so that they can do the same thing," Henderson said.
Group leaders plan on implementing fundraising efforts primarily through their social media and other creative activities, such as getting pied by people for a donation.
"We want it to be fun and a collective effort," Mahoney said.
To the founding members, the most important thing about their chapter of the Dreamers Scholarship Council is that it is a student-led organization. Aidan Baker, a second-year marketing student, serves as the organization's multimedia chair.
"Anything that's student-led is always very exciting to me," Baker said. "Particularly this, because you don't hear a lot about students raising funds for a scholarship for other students."
In its first semester, the organization's leadership is working to grow the club and make an impact on campus.
"Right now things are very stagnant and steady," Baker said. "But we're hoping, once we kind of have something concrete to show, we can do and what we're trying to do for the students, more people will get interested."