In any given year, most Miami Dade College students are just one financial setback away from dropping out of college. When students’ hardships became even more acute due to COVID-19, donors and community partners immediately asked how they could help.
Philanthropist Gerald Sprayregen was among the first to call to make sure help was on the way. Sprayregen began supporting MDC students well before the pandemic hit, establishing the American Dream Emergency Financial Assistance Program in 2018 to help students overcome financial crises and stay on track to graduation. “In our first year, we helped 140 students stay in school,” Sprayregen said. “This was thrilling.”
Sprayregen extended his giving to ensure the program was fully funded for five years. Leading up to the 2020 election, he also expanded his philanthropy to support nonpartisan civic engagement projects by MDC’s Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy, such as voter registration, civic education and “get out the vote” efforts.
With the hardship wrought by the pandemic, a record number of students reached out to the College for help. MDC’s expansive wraparound services are well equipped to help students find their way, but in the pandemic’s wake, food insecurity rose sharply. As a champion for MDC students, Sprayregen once again stepped forward.
“We see the very same demographic of at-risk students that we hope to serve being challenged once again with food insecurity,” Sprayregen said. “We are currently working with Miami Dade College to see that this need is met and encourage anyone who can, to do the same.” His generosity helped MDC’s Single Stop and Food Pantries provide grocery store gift cards, food and emergency relief to students most impacted.
“In this time of unprecedented need, Gerald Sprayregen has helped ensure that students’ paths to success were not compromised,” said Mark Cole, vice president of advancement and executive director of Miami Dade College Foundation.
An entrepreneur, award-winning poet, photographer and filmmaker, Sprayregen has long championed young people through his charitable giving. He founded his family foundation in 2007 with the purpose of teaching his children and grandchildren the importance of giving. “Helping children and adolescents has always been on the top of my list,” Sprayregen said. “My approach to helping them succeed has been realized through a number of special projects sponsored by my family and charitable foundations, and each year, we take on additional projects. Needless to say, this keeps a smile on my face.”
For more information on how you can give to student scholarships, please visit www.mdcfoundation.com