Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fundraising Tips for Undocumented Students: Developing Your Fundraising Portfolio

One of the ways that many undocumented students fundraise for college is by developing a Fundraising Portfolio.  What is a Fundraising Portfolio, you may ask?  Well, I'm here to tell you everything you need to know about what to include in your Portfolio and how to use it to fundraise for college.  I also encourage any undocumented students who have developed their own Fundraising Portfolio to share their tips for students here!

What do I include?          Click here for: Sample Fundraising Portfolio
  1. Cover Letter - Your cover letter is a lot like a personal statement or biographical essay.  It tells the reader about you and your personal story.  It also lets the reader know that you will be attending college, what your costs to attend are, and that you have limited access to financial support due to your residency status.  You do not need to state anywhere in your cover letter that you are "undocumented."  Instead, you may simply say, "I am ineligible for financial aid due to my residency status."
  2. Letter of Admission - You should include a copy of your Letter of Admission or some other formal documentation to let the reader know that you have been admitted to college and/or are currently attending.
  3. Unofficial Transcripts - Whether you are a high school or college student, you should include a copy of your Unofficial Transcripts in your Portfolio.  If you are a strong student academically (i.e., you have good grades) then this will help the reader feel more confident about investing in you and your educational future.  However, even if you have struggled academically, you can still include your transcript to let the reader know where you are in school (i.e., high school senior, college student, graduate student).  You can also include an explanation for your academic struggles in your Cover Letter, if you wish to. 
  4. Resume - Developing a strong resume is something that will benefit you in many ways as you fundraise for college.  It tells the reader everything that your Cover Letter and transcripts do not.  It lets the reader know about your educational background, work experience, volunteer work, community service, honors & awards, etc.  Please see the link to the Sample Fundraising Portfolio for the proper formatting and content of your resume.
  5. Letters of Recommendation - You should include at least 2-3 letters of recommendation with your Fundraising Portfolio.  These letters should come from teachers, professors, counselors, advisors, community members, or others who can speak to your motivation to succeed in college and help the reader to understand why their investment in you and your education is important. 
Please see the Sample Fundraising Portfolio for an example of the items above.

Who do I give my Fundraising Portfolio to?

This will differ from student to student.  The reason is because each student has different relationships with different people.  You should think about who is part of your personal network.  Members of your personal network include teachers, professors, counselors, advisors, community members, family members, peers, or others who you have personal relationships with.  You should start by making 10-20 copies and sharing your Fundraising Portfolio with individuals in your own personal network.  When you do, you will also want to ask these individuals if they would be willing to share your Fundraising Portfolio with their friends or colleagues. 

You should not expect any one person to provide you with all of the funding you need for college.  More often, students are able to raise hundreds or even thousands of dollars by giving their Fundraising Portfolio to many people who each make small donations.  However, there are students with strong personal networks who have raised much of the money they need for college this way.  It really depends on the relationships you have with the people around you and the strength of your personal network and your Portfolio.

For more information about how to build a strong network, please check out my next blog: Tips for Undocumented Students: Networking for College & Career Success! 


  1. Here's the Video Log on Latinos in College that Mariela Dabbah did with Dr. Paz Oliverez talking about how to pay for college when you are undocumented.

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