Finding the power of family at home and in the classroom

Sonia Gonzalez—a participant of UnidosUS’s Escalera and Líderes Avanzando programs—credits her East LA upbringing and her family’s perseverance and compassion for guiding her path to college and beyond

At center: Sonia Gonzalez and; UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía pose with guests at our 2017 Annual Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. <em>Photo: Sonia Gonzalez</em>

Sonia Gonzalez Photo: Sonia Gonzalez

By Jennifer Wennig for UnidosUS

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor has said, “Remember that no one succeeds alone. Never walk alone in your future paths.” This is a sentiment that captures the experiences of another strong Latina named Sonia.

Growing up in East LA, Sonia Gonzalez was determined to pursue higher education as early as in elementary school. Planning to go to college was not an “option” but a “requirement” in Sonia’s mind.

It was an ambition rooted in the lessons given by her family, who have provided lifelong examples of perseverance and service.

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This UnidosUS Affiliate in Chicago is creating a community where everyone can thrive

The Center for Changing Lives (CCL) supports and uplifts individuals who have been limited by a lack of resources and economic opportunities to help them discover new possibilities, overcome barriers, and realize their full potential.

Center for Changing Lives

A mentor-led training session at the Center for Changing Lives in Chicago. Photo: CCL

The Chicago-based nonprofit operates under the fundamental belief that all people are creative, resourceful and whole. And CCL has a track record of helping clients increase their income, net worth and credit scores through financial coaching and other services.

In 2017, CCL provided financial coaching to over 360 community members. And the results speak for themselves:

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Advocates discuss opportunities and challenges in career and technical education

Career and technical education programs in high schools today offer training in careers ranging from STEM fields to marketing, sales, and service. Their  continued improvement and expansion is important to the Latino community.

Career and Technical Education

On January 10, UnidosUS and the National Urban League brought together researchers, policymakers, advocates, and practitioners whose common goal is to ensure that state education plans equally prepare all students with 21st-century skills.

One of those areas of focus is in career and technical education, or CTE.

But we’re not talking about the vocational education of years past that channeled certain populations of students into skilled trades and prevented them from working toward academic degrees. CTE today provides students with academic and technical skills, along with training for a range of industry certifications, and postsecondary certificates and degrees. CTE offers 16 career clusters ranging from STEM fields to marketing, sales, and service.

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‘We will not stop fighting for what is right for our country’

We joined DREAMers and fellow advocates on Capitol Hill to condemn the attempts to block a Dream law.

UnidosUS joined DREAmers and advocates on January 19, 2018 for a Capitol Hill press conference condemning lawmakers for blocking a vote on Dream Act legislation. Photo: UnidosUS | Dreamers

UnidosUS joined DREAmers and advocates on Capitol Hill on January 19, 2018 to call out congressional leaders for not pursuing a Dream bill. Photo: UnidosUS

By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS

As a possible government shutdown looms, advocates from a coalition of 45 Latino rights organizations arrived on Capitol Hill on Friday to demand relief for the nearly 800,000 young people left in limbo after President Trump ended DACA.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Hispanic Federation, and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) also brought 150 DREAMers with them from California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, DC.

While congressional leaders fail to arrive at a solution for these young people, 122 become deportable each day.

That isn’t just 122 dreams deferred each day, 122 people who suddenly can’t keep their jobs, can’t afford their education, have to put off buying a home, or simply can no longer provide for their families.

That’s 122 people who suddenly are thrust into the unknown, forced to live in fear of being deported back to a country where they not only may know no one at all, but be in very real danger.

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An opportunity to serve: UnidosUS California Affiliate AltaMed’s commitment to increasing access and dispelling myths during ACA Open Enrollment

Altamed - ACA Open Enrollment

Photo: AltaMed

By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS

While the 2018 Affordable Care Act (ACA) Open Enrollment on the federal Marketplace ended on December 15, California’s Open Enrollment on its state Marketplace runs until January 31. UnidosUS California Affiliates, like AltaMed located in the Los Angeles area, are working hard to make sure that communities enroll and have access to the quality health care they need.

It’s what they’ve been doing since the first open enrollment period started in 2013.

“We knew that when the ACA was signed by President Obama that this was an opportunity to serve the community,” explains Jazmin Diego, Manager of Legislative & Advocacy Affairs at AltaMed, an UnidosUS Affiliate in Los Angeles, California.

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Here’s what you can do today to defend DREAMers

Call Congress - Defend DREAMers

Photo: Office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

We just ended 2017 without a meaningful relief package for DREAMers.

This means that every day, 122 people lose their chance to work, to further their education, to own a home, or simply provide for their families.

That will become an estimated 1,400 people per day in March.

So we can’t wait anymore.

We need a Dream Act this month.

Watch the video below and read on to see how you can take action to help DREAMers today.

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‘We need to get DREAMers legislation DONE!’

UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía joined U.S. Representative Steny H. Hoyer for a Facebook Live talk on the current state of the fight for a DREAM Act Now.

Today our President and CEO Janet Murguía joined Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland to update our community on where things stand in Congress regarding legislation to protect DREAMers.

The fight has been long and hard, and we still have much to do. But we are in a better place than we have been in quite some time.

We are closer than ever to getting legislation that permanently protects DREAMers. This is an issue that has broad support from both parties. Indeed, the Dream Act has bipartisan co-sponsors and enough votes to pass easily if brought to a vote today.

But January is the last chance for Congress to take action before tens of thousands of DREAMers lose their ability to live, work, and contribute to the only country they know.

View the full video of the Facebook Live session below:

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Trump administration’s decision to end Salvadoran TPS takes aim at 192,000 children

TPS El Salvador

Today, the Trump administration chose not to continue Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nearly 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants. Many people with TPS from El Salvador have been in the United States for nearly 20 years.

In early 2001, El Salvador was struck by a series of severe earthquakes. An estimated 195,000 Salvadorans now live in the United States, many of whom fled for their lives during that period of deadly natural disasters.

Trump’s decision to let Salvadoran TPS lapse means that the economy will take a hit from losing nearly 200,000 people who work hard every day in communities across the country. It makes it that much harder for thousands of families to provide for their children.

And Trump’s decision to end Salvadoran TPS means that 192,000 U.S.-citizen children now have to face the reality that their parents might be forced to leave them.

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La participación escolar de los padres: desafíos y soluciones

Los padres que participan en la educación de sus hijos juegan un papel clave en su éxito escolar. Aquellos padres que se mantienen involucrados poseen el saber y la habilidad para tomar decisiones relacionadas a la educación de sus hijos. Los padres así fomentan conexiones con los maestros, los empleados y otros padres. Al estar involucrados, ellos también pueden asistir con los eventos escolares, y formar parte de grupos, como la Asociación de padres y maestros (PTA por sus siglas en inglés),  que se encargan de tomar decisiones escolares locales y del distrito. De esta manera los padres aumentan su conocimiento del currículo académico, los exámenes que sus hijos deben tomar, y aprenden lo que deben hacer si sus hijos tienen dificultades académicas y a quien acudir para ayuda.

Es evidente que hay muchos beneficios si padres participan en las escuelas. Sin embargo, muchos padres enfrentan barreras a la participación escolar.

Desafíos para involucrarse

Primero, hay padres que no conocen el sistema escolar estadounidense. Tal vez el sistema escolar de su infancia fue muy diferente o su experiencia con el sistema escolar público fue limitado. Cualquiera la razón, el desconocimiento de sistemas escolares es un problema muy común para muchos padres.

Además, las barreras lingüísticas impiden la comunicación entre los padres, maestros y grupos como el PTA. Sin el apoyo necesario, como traductores, muchos padres son excluidos de estas conversaciones importantes.

Entre el trabajo (o los trabajos), las tareas del hogar y el cuidado de niños –muchos padres carecen de tiempo libre. Por eso, los eventos escolares y sesiones familiares se vuelven prioridad secundaria.

Finalmente, algunos padres tienen miedo de ir a la escuela. Testimonios en las noticias sobre arrestos, encarcelamientos y otras altercaciones con la policía cerca de las escuelas, han causado mucho temor en la comunidad. Desafortunadamente, muchos padres Latinos y padres inmigrantes enfrentan estos obstáculos día a día.. Lo bueno es que hay soluciones.

Enfrentando las barreras

Padres Comprometidos, un programa de UnidosUS, ofrece un currículo bilingüe y talleres que buscan eliminar las barreras que impiden la participación escolar de los padres. Este plan de estudio está compuesto de dos series diseñado para ayudar a los padres a navegar el sistema escolar, comprender los datos y notas de calificaciones, aprender de los estándares académicos y examines estatales, y elevar un asunto al nivel apropiado en la jerarquía académica.

La organización UnidosUS da talleres que enseñan el plan de estudio a los padres para que ellos puedan implementarlo en sus escuelas u organizaciones. Ya que algunos de los padres trabajan para distritos escolares, mientras otros son voluntarios, las maneras de implementar el plan varían. ¿Qué es lo que logra este programa  Eliminar las barreras que enfrentan muchos padres Latinos, dar poder para que ellos puedan tomar decisiones importantes con respeto a sus hijos y elevar las voces diversas, que históricamente han sido silenciadas, en las escuelas y en las organizaciones de padres.

El programa Padres Comprometidos comenzó en 2009 y ha crecido a 54 escuelas y organizaciones de 24 estados por todo el país.

Los padres en acción

A principios de diciembre, más de 25 padres de ocho estados y 11 organizaciones se reunieron para un evento de educación y abogacía latina en Washington, DC. Ellos participaron en un taller donde se enseñó nuestro Plan de Estudio para Padres Defensores, la segunda serie del  Currículo de Padres Comprometidos.

Este plan enseña a los padres como identificar y elevar un asunto al nivel apropiado en la jerarquía escolar, como pensar en las soluciones posibles, y finalmente, como colaborar con el liderazgo de la escuela para implementar estas soluciones.

El taller ayudó a los padres a sentirse más preparados con el plan de estudio. Además, el taller creó un ambiente para colaborar y discutir los desafíos comunes en la participación de los padres en las escuelas. Ellos compartieron estrategias y soluciones.

“Implementen una rifa cada sesión para establecer un ambiente divertido y atraer a padres nuevos,” compartió una madre. “Hagan llamadas bilingües y produzcan folletos cuando hay reuniones para los padres,” dijo otra madre.

Además, una madre compartió una estrategia muy simple para establecer relaciones más fuertes con los maestros en la escuela. “La bienvenida es lo más importante. Una sonrisa grande y una bienvenida cálida vale mucho.” Un consejo simple que deben hacer todos los padres y el liderazgo escolar diariamente.