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The scholarship is aimed at helping first-generation college students with a 2.5 GPA or higher.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Hillsboro Hops mascot Barley during a Minor League Baseball game against the Eugene Emeralds at Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro in 2019. The Hops announced a scholarship to help first-generation college students.

Despite not being able to hit the field, the Hillsboro Hops are still finding ways to interact with the community.

The team announced the inaugural Dream Big scholarship for the Class of 2021 on Tuesday, Jan. 26. The $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to a first-generation college student from the greater Portland metro area.

Jen Anderson, senior director of people and culture for the Hillsboro Hops, says the team is always trying to expand community efforts in the area.

"This year, we wanted to expand helping kids in the high schools, and it kind of lends itself to the brand that we launched in 2019, which was 'Soñadores,'" said Anderson. The brand name translates to "Dreamers."

The name also carries political connotations. "Dreamers" is a popular term for U.S. non-citizen residents who are eligible for the federal DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. The nickname comes from the acronym for the DREAM Act, a series of bills to protect certain people who came to the United States as children, have grown up in the country, graduated from an American high school or obtained a GED, and have no significant criminal record.

"So, when we think about everyone's dreams, it lends itself to high school seniors wanting to dream big and getting into college," said Anderson. "We wanted to make sure it wasn't just another scholarship, and we wanted to help people that needed that extra push."

The applicant must be a graduating high school senior from a school in the Portland metro area or a school in Southwest Washington. The student should also be attending an Oregon college or university.

Other requirements include their parents or guardian not having a four-year college degree. As for grade point average, applicants must have at least a 2.5 GPA.

Anderson says initially the GPA requirement was higher, but the organization lowered it after realizing that it does not reflect a student's hard work.

"We want everyone to have a shot and feel that they could do this," she added. "We didn't want to have too much criteria either. We wanted this to be accessible."

As of Tuesday, Jan. 26, about five students had already submitted applications for the scholarship.

The Hops will have members of their staff, large donors, and other community partners to help them review the applications. Applicants will have to answer three personal statements under 1,000 characters.

"We have a rubric in place for readers who will read all of the answers (from students), and it will be a blind kind of reading, so they won't know the names of the students," explained Anderson.

Applications for the Dream Big scholarship are due by Sunday, Feb. 28, at 5 p.m.

For more information, visit milb.com/hillsboro/community/scholarship.

The Hops hope to play for the first time since September 2019 this spring. Last year's minor league baseball season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Baseball America, a national publication that focuses on minor league and college baseball, reported earlier this month that the 2021 minor league season could be delayed to May or later due to health and safety protocols.


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