Lifelong Learning For Immigrants

In these last decades, there has been a growing recognition, in the field of education, of the need to promote a culture of lifelong learning. Today there is a consensus among educators that program designs that support self-directed learning across an individual's lifespan, with opportunities for learning in diverse locations (classrooms, homes, workplace, and socio-cultural centers, etc.), are more fruitful and effective.

The goals need to be ambitious
Bringing an educational system like this to fruition, especially in rural areas with few pathways to obvious jobs, requires innovative approaches and responses that reflect the reality of the social sector politics that currently drive these programs. The strategic pressure points – the fulcrum for leveraging institutional change to better nurture learning skills and enhance learners' ability to navigate an increasingly complex society – is to demonstrate concrete innovative approaches to providing low-cost interventions so that more cautious and conservative formal institutions will try them out. The goals need to be ambitious—to prepare youth and adults to better advocate for themselves, improve their work prospects and family well-being, and participate more effectively in civic life in their communities; and the strategies employed need to be practical, with clear outcomes. The following is the work currently being done in which we have participated or supported:

  • Support for learning and mentoring opportunities for youth, for "anytime, anyplace" learning needed by youth and young adults and seniors in urban and rural communities, as part of the Community Technology Network's cross-generational project, in Oakland. With support from business and non-profit sector, this group has organized a program which yields skills development and short-term paid stipends for youth.

  • Support for internships for youth and young adults to explore different work environments, as part of Dream Summer, CalDream at Berkeley, and the Centro Binacional para el Desarollo Indigena, and E4FC (Educators for Fair Consideration). These groups have enabled youth to undertake a variety of projects, expanding their visions of what the world might hold for them and how to deploy their skills and resources to realize their dreams.

  • Mobilizing social capital to advocate for, explore, and offer new learning opportunities for immigrants in rural areas. Migrants who come to the US bring with them, and develop here, a variety of expertise that can help develop educational and work competencies. Migrant communities themselves can and should be a deliberate part of the education and learning process. In Fresno, ILRC is operating a pilot project to strengthen the existing networks to help identify existing opportunities across educational institutions, to leverage new ones, and to connect youth and young adults to those opportunities.

The intention here is both to help move beyond the ideas to actually "grow" new resources for communities and the individuals in them to use to thrive socially and economically.

Asociación de Mexicanos en Carolina del Norte (AMEXCAN) —Support for youth community service/learning program. $10,000.

Building Skills Partnership (BSP) —for support use of its best-practice model of working with immigrant households to create a college-going culture and workforce readiness skills to improve opportunities for undocumented immigrants to apply for DACA relief. $40,000.

Centro Binacional de Desarollo Indigena Oaxaqueño (CBDIO)—Support for Community assessment of needs of indigenous students and collaboration with Fresno Unified School District in identifying effective strategies to improve communication with parents, learning opportunities, and services for students, with ongoing core support, Financial grants with coaching and counseling support, to 11 indigenous youth from low-income households to attend community college and move onward in education and/or in personally-rewarding careers; and general and specific support for an ethnographic research project – Las Doce Famillias/12 Families - on the lives of indigenous and other Mexican immigrant families living on the edge, in Fresno county (2016 to 2018, a total of $310,000.)

Community Tech Network (CTN)—Support for inter-generational program of youth volunteers providing computer literacy coaching to community members - to strengthen existing technology training resources, foster new computer skills and the ability to deploy them effectively to meet their specific objectives; and for program development. $146,000.

Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) —General support for E4FC and for the Ph.D. (pre-Health DREAMers) project. PHD provides information, advice, and peer counseling to help undocumented students interested in health careers to go on to graduate school, coupled with outreach and collaboration with universities seeking to become more immigrant-friendly. $70,000.

Immigrant Legal Services Center (ILRC) —2016 Support legal services and training in conjunction with Fresno CVIIC initiatives in addition to national advocacy. $968,000.

Liberty Hill Foundation —Support for Cal Dream Scholarship fund to provide scholarship and counseling support to DREAMers; and small specific grant to Inner-City Struggle. $145,000.

Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) —Support for the Immigrant Youth Scholarship Fund (DREAM Summer 2012). $24,000.

Proteus —Support for a pilot proect, co-funded with Unbound Philanthropy, to provide a pathway to individuals without documentation who might quality for DACA if they had a high school credential or were enrolled in a vocational pathway. This project focuses on lower educated individuals to jumpstart their and their families' well-being. Thus the model is a rich one, bundling tutoring and counseling to assist in guiding people through the education and DACA application process, and their next steps after completion. $60,000.

Red Mexicana de Organizaciones y Lideres Migrantes —Support for program training indigenous-origin immigrants to become trilingual court interpreters. $3,000.

Stanford University Board of Trustees —Support for scholarships for students graduating from the East Palo Alto Academy. $16,000.

UCLA Downtown Labor Center (through the California Community Foundation and Regents of UCLA) —Continued support for DREAM Summer 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. $198,000.

University of California, Santa Cruz Foundation —Support for summer internships for Center for Latino and Latin American Studies students working to build immigrant civic engagement in the San Joaquin Valley. $25,000.