Yes I Can Dream! Immigrant Youth Leadership Program

by Alondra Espejel | Aug 31, 2010
1 read | 1 Comment
Competition Winner

This entry has been selected as a winner in the
SpectrumTrust Multicultural Endowment competition.

Summary:

This program is designed to develop the leadership, civic engagement, and academic skills of immigrant youth. Utilizing an immigrant rights based curriculum implemented by MIFN trained college mentors, the program focuses on teaching high school students Minnesota's diverse immigration history and providing college-access information. The curriculum also fosters civic engagement as one of the lessons is a day at the Capitol. The day at the Capitol is MIFN's annual youth summit where over 1,000 immigrant students from all backgrounds have gathered to meet with their legislators, attend a college fair, and practice the skills it takes to become a changemaker. As these students learn and act, they take the steps to address the racial disparities found in the educational system thereby focusing on one of the manifestations of racism. As these youth find power in their stories of migration, as they connect with other youth and college mentors, and as they mobilize for change these youth create and become part of a college-going culture. This culture then creates a unified movement made up of immigrant students, teachers, advocates, advisors and legislators who are all working toward increasing the educational and college pathways for students of color. Over the years, this program has successfully advocated for state policies to ensure that more immigrant youth have access to a college education, regardless of immigration status.

About You

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About You

First Name

Alondra

Last Name

Espejel

Title

Associate Director

Organization

Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network

Country

United States, MN

About Your Organization

Organization Name

Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network

Organization Phone

612-250-5926

Organization Address

1516 East Lake Street, Suite 202

Organization City

Minneapolis

Organization Zipcode

55407

Brief description of your organization

The Minnesota Immigrant Freedom Network is a community-based organization whose mission is to empower and engage immigrants and their allies to work towards building integrated neighborhoods, thriving communities, and a sustainable Minnesota economy.

Organization Country

United States, MN

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Your idea

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Name your project

Yes I Can Dream! Immigrant Youth Leadership Program

Country your work focuses on

United States, MN

Describe your project. Explain the extent to which it mitigates the effects of racism

This program is designed to develop the leadership, civic engagement, and academic skills of immigrant youth. Utilizing an immigrant rights based curriculum implemented by MIFN trained college mentors, the program focuses on teaching high school students Minnesota's diverse immigration history and providing college-access information. The curriculum also fosters civic engagement as one of the lessons is a day at the Capitol. The day at the Capitol is MIFN's annual youth summit where over 1,000 immigrant students from all backgrounds have gathered to meet with their legislators, attend a college fair, and practice the skills it takes to become a changemaker. As these students learn and act, they take the steps to address the racial disparities found in the educational system thereby focusing on one of the manifestations of racism. As these youth find power in their stories of migration, as they connect with other youth and college mentors, and as they mobilize for change these youth create and become part of a college-going culture. This culture then creates a unified movement made up of immigrant students, teachers, advocates, advisors and legislators who are all working toward increasing the educational and college pathways for students of color. Over the years, this program has successfully advocated for state policies to ensure that more immigrant youth have access to a college education, regardless of immigration status.

Project starting date

January 2011

Project ending date

December 2011

Total project budget - required field

137,850

Innovation

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What makes your project unique?

There are three factors that make this project unique.
1) College going culture. Many programs aimed at improving the college participation numbers for communities of color have prerequisites which prevent "under-performing" students from participating in their programs. MIFN's Yes I Can Dream! program strategically invites all students, regardless of their grades or immigration status, to participate in learning about our collective histories of immigration while working for social justice. This open invitation to learn and become active in their community is the formula that has ignited hundreds of immigrant students to help create and connect to a college-going culture. This college-going culture has created a broad movement comprised of stakeholders from all levels to acknowledge the college going dreams of immigrant youth while working towards removing the systemic barriers which stand in the way of these dreams.

2) Large multicultural participation. This project has successfully brought together students from all backgrounds and nationalities to advocate for access to higher education for all. Reaching over 1,000 youth participants during 2009 demonstrated the faces of committed young Latino, Somali, Hmong, Ethiopian, White and Native American students - all working together to advocate for more access to education for immigrant youth. Leaders involved in the educational advocacy field know that MIFN's youth program is able to bring together the largest and most diverse number of immigrant youth participants on an annual basis at over 15 high schools.

3) Statewide policy impact. By bridging a classroom experience aimed at helping students to develop their critical thinking skills while providing them college going information with a unifying and powerful civic day at the Capitol this project helped to pass the Flat-Tuition bill - a law which now helps thousands of immigrant youth attend college. This law supports students of color across the state.

Impact

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Tell us about the social impact of your project as it relates to ONE of these three areas: Education, Employment or Housing

This project successfully addresses the racial disparities found in the educational system by working with immigrant youth from a cultural assets and community organizing perspective. Youth are empowered individually as they read about the cross-cultural histories of immigration in Minnesota and as they learn about social justice, activism, and college access. This empowerment makes them more excited about learning, about achieving change and achieving a college education. As the youth become empowered educationally, they also become empowered systemically - as a whole, the students work with other allies to advocate for statewide policy changes and educational reform that benefit immigrant youth and immigrant families. Naturally, when immigrant youth and families are able to obtain higher levels of education, this benefit translates into creating a more sustainable Minnesota economy with the increased professionalization of the workforce.

List any specific activities associated with the project and a timeline for the activities

The program has a 6 week curriculum it will implement in high schools throughout the Twin Cities during the 2011 spring semester. The annual youth summit for higher education and immigrant youth takes place in March or April as part of the youth program experience. Summer is devoted to evaluating the program and making changes to improve the implementation of next year's effort. The fall is focused on recruiting new college volunteers, training them and making a connection to the high schools for the following year (2012).

Please summarize the involvement of people of color in the decision-making of your project

MIFN's staff are all people of color. Our board is 80% people of color. The youth who are active in the decision making of the program are overwhelmingly people of color. The staff, board and youth participants of this project all work together to give the program structure and implementation each year, as such, this initiative is a people of color led effort.

Please list which communities of color your project will involve and/or impact

Latino, Somali, Hmong, African American and Native American.

What age group will your project impact?

Children (0-12 years), Teens/adolescents (13-19 years), Adults (20-60 years).

Which gender(s) will your project focus on?

Male, Female.

What geographic area(s) will your project affect?

Other (specify below).

If you selected either Twin Cities Metro Area or Other above, please specify or identify the area

The impacts of this program are felt statewide by the media and policy it produces. The program serves youth in the TC area.

Sustainability

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

If your project is a collaborative effort, please list the other organizations involved

From year to year the project collaborates with varying partners, in the coming year we are planning to work with the La Raza Student Cultural Center (U of M), the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership, the Office for Equity and Diversity (U of M), Navigate, and El Colegio Charter School.

Who or what is expected to change as a result of your project?

We expect to change policies and behaviors towards supporting actions and efforts that increase college access levels for immigrant youth. We expect students, school staff, decision makers and public officials to work together towards integrating immigrant youth into academic success while changing systems to support the dreams of immigrant students.

What information will you provide in the final report to demonstrate the achievement of your results?

We will provide program participant numbers and demographics. Personal interviews will be shared coming from multiple program stakeholders to show breadth and depth of program impact. Pre and post program surveys will be summarized to show what information students were able to gather from the project in three areas: college access information, civic engagement and personal growth.

What methods will be used to gather the information?

Interviews, surveys, attendance sheets, and photos/video.

What do you hope to learn about racism and its impact?

We hope to learn that just as tightly as the knots of racism have been tied, they too swiftly can be undone if we all work cohesively and cross-culturally to address its impacts in the area of education.

What percentage do people of color comprise your board of directors?

80%

Documentation

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Funding sources: Please check all that apply

Individual donations, In-kind donations, Foundations, Businesses, State government.

Other

In submitting this application, the applicant agrees to the following (check all boxes)

The applicant will spend the money solely for the purpose stated in the grant award and will return the unexpended portion of the funds, if any. In addition, the applicant will provide an interim and/or final report, as required., The applicant realizes that payment of funds will be at the convenience of the Foundation. The Foundation reserves the right to cancel the grant and/or modify previously agreed-upon payments should such actions be deemed necessary by the Foundation., The applicant understands that the Foundation may review any or all information submitted as part of this request with advisors of the Foundation’s choosing, if deemed necessary by the Foundation., The applicant intends to comply with the terms of the Minnesota Charitable Solicitation Act (MS §309), if applicable..

Martina Yusay said: I like this kind of program because many youth will be encourage to join ad will participate. - James Stuckey about this Competition Entry. - 1547 days ago read more >
Yes I Can Dream! Immigrant Youth Leadership Program has been chosen as a winner in SpectrumTrust Multicultural Endowment. - 2576 days ago

Alondra Espejel updated this Competition Entry. - 2638 days ago

Alondra Espejel submitted this idea. - 2638 days ago