California Colleges Expand Services To Undocumented Students

With the establishment of the California Campus Catalyst Fund, 32 public colleges and universities across the state have each received $125,000 grants dedicated to expanding outreach to their undocumented student community.

In an effort to help more undocumented students access higher education, California colleges are stepping up big time. With the establishment of the California Campus Catalyst Fund, 32 public colleges and universities across the state have each received $125,000 grants dedicated to expanding outreach to their undocumented student community.

The money, provided by nonprofit organization Immigrants Rising, will go toward providing legal aid, mental health services, staff for on campus resource centers, textbook loan services, and career guidance. It doesn’t stop with just the students—their families will also be supported and receive additional services like legal consultations, workshops and even civics classes. The organization says it’s important to offer assistance to families because it helps students concentrate on their studies.

Of the 32 campuses that have received the grant this year, 27 are community colleges, four are California State University campuses and the final one is UC Merced.

This is a huge move for the estimated 72,300 undocumented college students enrolled at colleges and universities in California because the money will also help to combat many of the common challenges these students face. For example, on a national scale, undocumented students frequently report feeling isolated among their peers, having elevated levels of anxiety, and feeling like financial hurdles make it difficult for them to stay in school. On top of that, many students are also feeling the effects and tension of the current political climate on campus.

“They give up wanting to continue their education,” said Ed Henderson, counselor coordinator at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, in Los Angeles County. “They’re not seeing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. With everything that’s going on within the government, it seems like that light at the end of the tunnel is getting smaller and smaller for them. There’s a lot of depression, there’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of hopelessness.”

In addition, students who attend California colleges and are not undocumented but have undocumented family members can also look forward to receiving support. Schools who receive the grants are pledging to offer them many of the same services—including workshops specifically for parents. No one in the undocumented resident community of California—larger than any other state—will be left out of the loop.