From the classroom to the courtroom and back

UnidosUS Senior Education Policy Advisor Lorén Trull shares what propels her work to provide educational opportunities for all children.

By Jennifer Wennig for UnidosUS

Lorén Trull, Senior Education Policy Advisor for UnidosUS, is the embodiment of the transformative power of education. Lorén is a first-generation college student who grew up in a single-parent, low-income home. Determined to create a better future for herself, Lorén was a dedicated student and set her sights high.

Staff Profile Loren Trull

Lorén Trull

After completing her undergraduate studies (earning two bachelor’s degrees in Hispanic studies and sociology), Lorén earned a Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill and a doctoral degree in public policy from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“I’m well aware of what my statistical chances of going to college, earning a law degree, and earning a PhD were,” Lorén says. “Let’s just say the odds were against me and I don’t think that should be the case for any student.”

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Students talk about how UnidosUS’s Escalera program has changed their lives

Beyond helping kids get ready for college and future careers, the UnidosUS Escalera program is about community, friendship, and support. Here are a few stories from students who have participated in this life-changing program.

UnidosUS Escalera

By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS

In 2001, UnidosUS (then the National Council of La Raza), created the Escalera Program: Taking Steps to Success. Through the Escalera program, high school juniors and seniors learn about the often-daunting college application process, and engage with events and activities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Escalera students are usually Latino, first generation, and from traditionally marginalized communities. The program helps these students connect with a familia of peers from similar backgrounds.

To date, Escalera has served more than 1,700 young people across 37 Affiliates in 18 states. The Escalera program is funded by UPS.

Here are a few stories from students who have participated in the program. Their words show that Escalera is all about community, friendship, and support.

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This Trump budget is not what the American people want or need

The president aims to take programs away from hardworking families when they need them most while doubling down on his administration’s anti-immigrant agenda.

By Amelia Collins, Policy Analyst, UnidosUS

Today, the Trump administration sent its budget for fiscal year 2019 to Congress, outlining the next phase of the Republican agenda.

Trump budgetFirst, they attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has helped four million Latinos get health care.

Then they passed a massive trillion-dollar tax cut for large corporations and the wealthy: the top 1% get an average tax cut of $1,061 a week, 125 times larger than the weekly $8.46 going to the bottom 60% of Americans.

What’s next? Paying for the deficit-busting tax bill by slashing Medicaid, nutrition assistance, and other basic supports that help everyday Americans make ends meet.

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Who is a DREAMer?

DREAMers have known no country other than the United States, and should have the same opportunities as their friends and neighbors.

Dream Act Now youth | Dreamer

By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS

During President Trump’s State of the Union, he stated that “Americans are dreamers, too.” This is a cynical attempt to co-opt the term “DREAMer” which describes a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

DREAM—not Dream or dream—stands for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, which has failed to make its way through Congress several times since 2001, most recently in 2013. DREAM would have offered undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children legal permanent residency.

In 2013, as Congress failed to pass another version of the DREAM Act, President Obama created the DACA program. Under DACA, nearly 800,000 young immigrants who came to the United States as undocumented children received a two-year, renewable deferral of deportation and work permit.

These young immigrants were required to to be strictly vetted. This included undergoing criminal and security screenings and additional checks every 24 months. This is in addition to a number of other strict requirements, including having to be younger than 16 when they arrived in the United States and having proof that they have been living in the country continuously since June 15, 2007.

These are the young people known as “DREAMers.”

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How community-based organizations can use the power of partnerships to empower their neighborhoods

2017 UnidosUS Affiliate of the Year MAAC speaks about upcoming Affiliate Peer Exchange

By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS

UnidosUS Affiliate of the Month | Affiliate Spotlight | UnidosUS

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a regular series that will highlight the work of UnidosUS Affiliates. These community-based organizations—nearly 300 strong—work daily to assist, educate, and empower communities nationwide. They are the heart of UnidosUS. 

In 1965, MAAC was created by a small group of community leaders in San Diego who recognized the need to advocate on behalf of the Latino community to access the employment opportunities that were being created.

At the time, the poverty rate was 19% in San Diego County, and President Lyndon Johnson had just declared a War on Poverty. This signaled an aggressive new approach to combatting the problems that people face in trying to make ends meet, put food on the table, and afford their children’s medical bills.

Since then, MAAC has evolved into a 500-staff member organization that serves all of San Diego County with five focus areas: housing, economic development, health and well-being, education, and advocacy. Establishing strong public-private partnerships is key to accomplishing the goals of this UnidosUS Affiliate, particularly in regard to their role as affordable housing developers.

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Breaking the colonial shackles

How an UnidosUS Líderes Con Alas fellow found a life mission in dark times

Matt Hinojosa | Lideres con Alas | UnidosUS | latino youth leaders

Matt Hinojosa Photo: Lupito’s Photography

By John Marth, Senior Content Specialist

Most people try to hide from the San Antonio sun, but Matt Hinojosa found something special in the scorching heat.

“I could feel myself getting close to this transcendental force just by being outside and working on the land,” he says. He was doing landscaping full-time and found a few hidden benefits no one told him about. “I could drink all day,” he says, “just detoxing and sweating in the sun.”

“It felt good, but at the same time, that was when I was deepest in my addiction.”

He was taking a few semesters off from college to save for tuition and a car, and to pay off fines from drug and alcohol charges.

Matt had been drinking and using drugs since he was a teenager, and it was affecting every part of his life. By the time he started landscaping, he’d dropped out of two different colleges, been arrested, and was losing hope.

“I was in a really dark place in my life. I didn’t have much to be proud of.”

Not long after, another semester in college would put him in touch with his Chicanx history and get him sober. All of these things—addiction, recovery, connection to something larger—would lead Matt to his life’s work.

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New bill would equip future teachers to better support English learners

Teacher shortages are common across the United States. However, there are several high-need areas where this shortage is most profound.

For most states, as their English Learner (ELs) population grows, it has become abundantly clear that they need more educators able to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) or at a minimum, have the skills necessary to support the nearly 4.6 million English Learners in our classrooms.

Though ELs face many barriers to success, one glaring issue is a lack of access to high-quality, well-trained teachers. Gone are the days of ELs being taught in separate classrooms where their instruction was focused on language acquisition.

Instead, ELs are being taught in general education classrooms where they can make both language and academic progress, as they should be. Most teachers will encounter an EL in their classrooms at some point in their careers and must be prepared to support them.

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Banking the unbanked: What’s important for Latino consumers

The toll of the Great Recession on the national economy and individual households has been well-documented. Today many aspects of our national economy are thriving, but the recovery for low-income and Latino families has been slower.

Record-high foreclosure rates and persistent unemployment have drained personal savings and increased people’s debt. This has rocked household balance sheets and caused many Latinos to fall out of the banking system.

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