Students at San Diego Mesa College’s new AVANZA Engagement Center, which serves DACA students and others with a variety of support services. Mesa is one of 32 colleges in the state that will receive support from the California Campus Catalyst Fund.
The San Diego Community College District has received a $336,000 grant to create and expand programs at its three colleges to support undocumented students and their families so that more people will be able to realize their full potential.
San Diego City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges are among 32 campuses throughout California that will receive support this academic year from the new California Campus Catalyst Fund. To date, the Catalyst Fund has raised nearly $10 million for this three-year initiative which was founded by educators, funders and advocates. The Fund increases support for undocumented students and their families on campuses representing the state’s three public higher education systems: California Community Colleges, California State University, and the University of California.
“When undocumented young people are able to pursue education and careers, they can create new, brighter futures for themselves, their families, and their communities,” said Lynn Neault. “As educators, we are not satisfied with only some people doing well. Everyone should have the support, resources, and environment they need to realize their full potential.”
Dr. Neault says the funds will be used to expand the Dreamer Resource Centers at City and Mesa colleges and establish a Dreamer Resource Center at Miramar College. The SDCCD will also utilize grant funding to establish a districtwide Dreamer Resource Support Program responsible for community outreach and engagement activities while tracking the academic success of the district’s undocumented students. Lastly, cultural competency training will be provided to ensure that the campuses at-large are knowledgeable and equipped to serve as allies to undocumented students, their families, and community members.
Currently, the district serves nearly 600 undocumented students at its three colleges. However, Dr. Neault says there are as many as 3,300 additional students who might be able to take advantage of the district’s support services.
The programs of the SDCCD and other Catalyst Fund grantees are building on the trailblazing work of students, educators, community leaders, and policymakers around the state in welcoming undocumented students out of the shadows and providing them with the resources they need to succeed. In recent years, California has expanded in-state and state-based financial aid, and undocumented immigrants now qualify for career licensing in law, medicine, real estate, and 37 other professions.
The ways that the Catalyst Fund supports undocumented students and families is similar to how campuses serve first-generation college-goers, foster youth, and other student populations with unique needs. “Undocumented young people and their families are integral to the social, economic, and cultural fabric of California, and as such, support for them needs to be woven into our state’s higher education system,” said Victor Garcia of Immigrants Rising, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that is administering the Fund.
Supporters for the Fund include the Chavez Family Foundation, College Futures Foundation, Grove Foundation, Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Ginnie and Peter Haas, Jr. Fund, Heising-Simons Foundation, Hellman Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman, NextGen America, and Weingart Foundation.