The privately financed Illinois Dream Fund announced Friday the awarding of the first college scholarships, for a total of $100,000, to undocumented immigrants who have been accepted to universities in the state.

The roughly 30 recipients were chosen by a selection committee that reviewed more than 1,000 applications, the fund's president Tanya Cabrera told Efe.

"We're helping a group of future leaders and to do that we must strengthen and expand financially their access to higher education," she said.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn offered congratulations to the first recipients of the scholarships created last year as a local response to the DREAM Act, a measure to legalize qualified undocumented youth that remains stalled in the U.S. Senate.

To be eligible for the scholarships, students must have lived with their parents while attending high school in Illinois and have obtained their high school diploma or the equivalent while studying in the state for at least three years.

The biggest contributors to the fund are Univision president Haim Saban, with a $100,000 grant, and the Chicago city government, which made $275,000 available in private funds left over from organizing a NATO summit in the Windy City.

Another $100,000 were contributed by companies and individuals who chose to remain anonymous to the public. EFE