California Campus Catalyst Fund

Helping Dreamers find safety and support on campus

New initiative supports California colleges and universities to offer expanded services for undocumented students and their families.

From the
Perspective Series

I am excited to share news about a new initiative that will help undocumented young people in California find urgently needed support at a time of unshakable anxiety and fear in their lives.

Right now, in California and across the nation, these young Dreamers are facing a host of agonizing questions. Will they be able to remain in the only country many of them have ever known? Continue their education? Hold onto their jobs? Stay close to family and friends? Pursue their dreams?

Sadly, the answers are unknown. The reason is uncertainty about the fate of the DACA program, which temporarily protects many young undocumented people (or Dreamers) from deportation and allows them to work in the United States.

As political leaders in Washington debate the issue, and amid a flood of misrepresentations about DACA and the people it benefits, young lives are hanging in the balance. Dreamers and their families need help to navigate the current crisis, defend themselves from deportation, and hold their lives together when their jobs, housing, and health care can be at risk.

Fortunately, there are places in California where many young Dreamers and their families are finding some of the support they need. On several college and university campuses across the state, administrators, faculty, and students are joining together to provide specialized services for undocumented students and their families.

At the Haas, Jr. Fund, we came to learn how campuses can be beacons of hope for undocumented students through our support for UC Berkeley’s work on issues of equity, inclusion, and diversity back in 2010. With its Undocumented Student Program, UC Berkeley has become a trailblazing campus, offering everything from legal services and mental health support to academic and career counseling, peer support, and more.

Based on the success of the Berkeley program, the Haas, Jr. Fund is now joining with six other foundations to support other campuses to develop programs of their own. The California Campus Catalyst Fund is a multimillion dollar, three-year initiative to expand support for undocumented students and their families across the state’s three public higher education systems: California Community Colleges, California State University, and University of California.

With more than 72,000 undocumented students across these three systems, their 147 campuses provide an excellent gateway for reaching young immigrants and their families who need help. Located in virtually every corner of the state, these campuses can reach students and families in areas where the services available for immigrant communities are limited or nonexistent.

The California Campus Catalyst Fund will support campus leaders to develop creative ways to respond to the needs of undocumented students and their families, both now and in the future. The Haas, Jr. Fund is delighted to be joining with the Chavez Family Foundation, Educators for Fair Consideration, Grove Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, Hellman Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, and Weingart Foundation to launch this initiative. We have raised nearly $8 million to date. Now, we need more partner donors to realize our goal of raising approximately $12 million over three years. Find out how you can support the California Campus Catalyst Fund.

Campuses across California can now apply for grants to create and expand programs and services for undocumented students. Find the application here. Please help us spread the word about this exciting funding opportunity.

Undocumented immigrants are our neighbors, colleagues, peers, friends, and family members. At a time of uncertainty and ugliness in our national debate, let’s give them love and support.