From Ric: Open Letter to Golden Door Scholars

4 minute read

Since 2013, Golden Door Scholars has provided four-year scholarships, internship opportunities, and a network of mentors to 360 high-achieving, DACA students. 72 of those Scholars worked with us this past summer as Red Ventures interns and fellows. Two helped us understand what it really means to be living in the U.S. with DACA. But there are more students who need our help.

That’s why we will be opening the Golden Door Scholars program to high-achieving undocumented high school students both with and without DACA. 

While we wait for the Supreme Court to review several federal injunctions against the termination of DACA, the future of undocumented students remains in limbo.  DACA students can renew their application, but there is a moratorium on additional applications. Undocumented students without DACA who want to pursue an education and path to work, have very few options. And while decisions stall at the highest levels of government, undocumented students and their families are also seeing an increase in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids across their towns and communities.

Read the full Red Ventures press release here, and Ric’s Open Letter to Golden Door Scholars below:

Last Thursday marked the two-year anniversary of DACA being rescinded. I remember so vividly the fear and confusion that announcement created for you and your families.

DACA has never been the perfect solution, but it did bring some peace of mind to you and to hundreds of thousands of young adults like you. It has been a path to pursue career opportunities, and a chance to feel safer.

It has been hope.

But hope doesn’t last forever.  It has an expiration date. And while you can keep renewing your DACA, the legal challenges that have been in the courts since September 5, 2017  keep you in limbo. It is an unacceptable failure of our system and a cruel reality for you. 

Over the last two years I have thought a lot about all of our Golden Door Scholars and Red Ventures DACA employees. But my greatest concern was for those 14-year-olds who were about to turn 15, waiting, looking forward to applying for DACA to get the same protections you have. Their dreams – their hope – was crushed that day. 

You know this better than I do because some of them are your younger siblings, your cousins, and your friends.

We have always said the Golden Door Scholars program is specifically for DACA recipients – not because we believe other groups are less deserving – but because a core part of the way we support you goes beyond scholarships. It’s internships, jobs, professional development. We have always felt that because we can’t help everyone, we should focus where we can do the most good. And so we’ve focused our efforts on DACA students like you, who can and should be competing for the same jobs and careers as your peers.

The belief that we should focus our energy and resources where we can do the most good has not changed.  What has changed is that in November, the Supreme Court hears arguments about the fate of the DACA program. Once again, you and other Dreamers must feel like you’re walking a tightrope as you go through your daily lives.

We cannot let you go through that alone. And we cannot ignore the hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people who, just like you, are committed to earning their bachelor’s degrees and helping their communities, but just had bad timing, missing the DACA window.

As you know, the Golden Door Scholars application is now open for our 8th cohort of scholars who will start school in Fall 2020. For the first time, we are opening up Golden Door Scholars to undocumented Dreamers who do not have DACA. It is the right thing to do. 

Tough times test leadership, and we hope others with public voices or power will do the same.

We will learn the Supreme Court’s decision on the fate of the DACA program this spring. That must feel like you are waiting to hear about your personal fate. I encourage you to fight that feeling. Over the course of our journey together I have been so impressed and humbled by your resilience in the face of tough circumstances. 

Remain hopeful. It gives you power to create your own destiny.  Our whole team here at Golden Door and Red Ventures are here to help you do that. Focus on your school work, on your families, and on your communities, and know that we have your backs.

Take care of yourselves and each other. Let’s hold on to the hope that the Supreme Court will do the right thing.

-Ric Elias


To learn more about the Golden Door experience (and what it’s like to be DACA-mented in the U.S.), read this article – written by two of our own Scholars. For more information about the GDS program, visit goldendoorscholars.org, and follow @GoldenDoorScholars on social media. You can check out the program’s new eligibility requirements here.

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About the Author:

Ric Elias | Co-Founder & CEO

Ric Elias is CEO and co-founder of Red Ventures. In 2009, he survived the "Miracle on the Hudson,” which led to his viral TED Talk, "3 Things I Learned While My Plane Crashed." In 2011, Ric was named Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year, and in 2016 he was inducted into the Carolinas Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. Ric has founded several social impact initiatives including RoadtoHire, Golden Door Scholars, LifeSports, and Forward787. A native of Puerto Rico, Ric attended Boston College and Harvard Business School.

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