Scholarship America® Announces 2021 Dream Award Recipients

MINNEAPOLIS, April 29, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — It remains a challenging time for students during the ongoing pandemic, and Scholarship America is dedicated to supporting students’ college dreams. Twenty-two exceptional students have been selected to receive Scholarship America’s 2021 Dream Award. The Dream Award is Scholarship America’s renewable scholarship program for students with financial need who have overcome significant barriers to make it to college. Since the Dream Award was created in 2014, over $2.4 million in scholarships, ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, have been awarded to 130 students.

“Our Dream Award scholars represent diverse abilities, ethnicities and identities, with a focus on historically underrepresented communities. They have overcome major hardships in their lives including serious illness, abandonment, abuse, family loss, poverty, foster care, and homelessness,” said Robert C. Ballard, president and CEO of Scholarship America. “These inspiring students are focused on getting the skills they need to pursue their dreams and help others.”

Seventy percent of Dream Award scholars are the first in their families to attend college; 80 percent contribute financially to their families’ income; and nearly one-third serve as caregivers in addition to being students.

This year, as in 2020, the Dreams to Success event to honor Dream Award students and raise funds for the scholarship program will be online. The event will go live on May 13 at 6:30 pm EST. For more information on the Dream Award and to register for the event, visit

Below is a selection of the 2021 Dream Award recipients, including hometowns. For a complete list, click here.

Imanni Wright/Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Broadcast Journalism, Chapman University: “The Dream Award has enabled me to focus more on my studies. I want to become an elite sports journalist, attend graduate school to obtain a Master’s degree, and then go on to earn my Ph.D. to become a respected college professor and mentor graduate students. For the past four years, my mom has dealt with life-threatening health challenges that require my assistance with her care. This made my first year of college financially challenging when she lost her job and I had to manage my attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and an auditory processing disorder in the face of the pandemic. Moving to online courses only heightened my anxiety. Thanks to the support from the university and my family, I have learned to persevere, made the dean’s list, became a student leader, and my mom is on her way to fully recovering.”

Jammal Yarbrough/Vacaville, Calif.
Electrical Engineering, College of Canyons: “At the age of 8, my father was incarcerated for a 25-year sentence and I never saw him again. My mother was heartbroken and turned to drugs and alcohol to find peace. I also ended up spending time in prison. I struggled to understand why I ended up there and made a groundbreaking discovery. I realized not a single person in my family has a college degree or a high school diploma. That created the impetus behind my passion for becoming the first member of my family to get a Ph.D. Because of your generosity, my future is bright and promising.”

Katarina Hansen/Clearwater, Minn.
Statistics/Biochemistry Science, St. Cloud State: “Growing up with autism, I felt fortunate to be homeschooled by a strong single mother who encouraged me to be myself and be proud of my accomplishments. I knew that many on the spectrum are not always expected to go to college. An academic overachiever, my mother encouraged me to pursue many interests beyond the required academic curriculum, and I became involved in computer science, chess, and microbiology clubs, as well as space camps. I also love sports where I excel in track and floor hockey in the Special Olympics. I am forging my own path. I have a double major in statistics and biochemistry and want to do research on Alzheimer’s to understand why it affects the Hispanic population more.”

Dream Award recipients were selected by a committee headed by Dr. Martha Kanter, Ed.D., CEO of College Promise and a senior fellow at the Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy at New York University. Other committee members: Robert C. Ballard, president and CEO, Scholarship America; Gabby Gomez, deputy Director of U.S. Policy, Advocacy and Communications, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Kristin Hultquist, renowned national education expert and founding partner of HCM Strategists; and Jim Larimore, Chief Officer for Equity in Learning, Riiid Labs.

About Scholarship America®
Scholarship America is a non-profit organization that helps students fulfill their college dreams. Since 1958, Scholarship America has distributed over $4.5 billion to more than 2.8 million students. The organization works with partners to lower barriers to a college education and give students the support needed to succeed. Learn more at

Joan Cronson

SOURCE Scholarship America