Dude, You're Getting a Dell Scholarship

The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation's interested in children's health and education started in the Texas area, but may soon expand. Right now, the foundation offers 300 scholarships annually to aspiring undergrads. The Dell Scholars package consists of $20,000 over the course of six years, hardware (Dell brand, I assume), and access to what they call a "Dell Scholar team" that provides academic advising and counseling.

The foundation chooses their scholars on need-based rather than merit-based criteria. In other words, they operate under the assumption students' socioeconomic situations influence their GPA. While they do require a GPA of at least 2.4, the Dell Scholars program recognizes the initiative and potential of a student first and their past academic achievements second.

Their site's criteria section says students must have participated in an "approved college readiness program" for two of the previous three years of high school in order to apply for the Dell scholarship as college freshmen. (See Dell Foundation: Grants for College Readiness). A list of such certified "readiness" programs is available here.

This shouldn't come as much of a surprise considering the fact that beyond the scholarships, the foundation also funds a variety of college prep organizations. As recently as 2010, they have given to Laying the Foundation, Inc., YES Prep, and other similar groups. (Read U.S. education program officer Todd Penner's IP profile).

Judging by the "commitments beyond 2010" section of their 990 form, it appears as though Dell will expand both education and health sector operation in India and South Africa.

The Dell Foundation also broke off $2.6 million for The National Math and Science Initiative, supporting the second round of a program called Uteach. Uteach trains elementary and high school level teachers in math and the sciences.

The University of Texas developed the Uteach program in the late 1990s, hoping to keep the US competitive with other countries in terms of brain power. It fast-tracks undergrads with promising scores in math and the sciences through a four-year teaching certification program with a strong field-teaching component. A pilot for the program in Austin produced promising results; now it looks as though round two will make use of the funding from Dell and others to run a large-scale national version of the program.