The Volunteer Center Fellows chose Improving Dreams Equality Access and Success (IDEAS) AB-540 Project as one of this quarter’s Mongelli Award winners. Each quarter the Fellows nominate projects that demonstrate UCLA’s dedication to service. The Fellows chose IDEAS because the project reflects the hard work of Bruins that are passionate and determined to make a difference in their communities.
Having no legal identity or recognition by the United States’ federal and state government means being deprived of the right to dream the American dream, a lack of voice, and most notably losing hope in the pursuit for higher edification. Fortunately for AB 540 students as well as the community, the IDEAS project is dedicated to Improving Dreams, Equality, Access, and Success. They advocate for immigrant rights and make a strong effort to prevent the dreams for AB-540 students from fading away by communicating that despite being undocumented, there are many ways to overcome their obstacles. Nonetheless, it is through this wonderful faithful assemblage of people that those feelings of hope and optimism for many can be reintroduced to undocumented students in the Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties.
Now more than ever before, California offers ways for undocumented scholars to reach their capacities with opportunities like the California Dream Act, Federal Dream Act, Deferred Action, and AB-540 movements. The local communities have begun to depend on groups like the IDEAS organization for this relatively new material. Educating and updating on these matters for the immigrant community is accomplished through IDEA’s various methods of notifying them including but definitely not limited to Bruins Without Borders, the Annual Educator’s Conference with its yearly attendance of over 1,000 members, informational workshops for undocumented students, mentoring programs, student panels, the Immigrant Youth Empowerment Conference, as well as many more beneficial community events. IDEAS assists AB-540 students with a number of questions they may have on topics like college submissions, personal statements, California Dream Act, community service opportunities, and Deferred Action for Child Arrival applications via workshops and mentoring. Informational workshops and mentoring sites occur at various locations in order to benefit and improve the community’s probabilities of succeeding in bringing about change for the better of the public.
Many of the IDEAS members are or at one point have been undocumented themselves. This connection with the community allows for brilliant vision and a key motivational instrument to assure that those newer hopeful AB-540 students achieve their purposes of attending the college they always aspired to attend for pursuing their vocations. What encourages most IDEAS members in their ventures and keeps them driven to give back to the community is their own manifestations of how a life can be drastically affected by the services these projects provide to the public. The AB-540 project motivates students to make the decision to enroll in college regardless of whether or not they’ll be able to afford their books or pay for tuition. “Giving back to this project means a lot to me because of how it’s affected me personally, being able to change others’ lives like they did mine is one of the most gratifying possessions one can have. I love encouraging others in pursuing their dreams of higher education and the mentoring component of the AB-540 project allows for just that,” said Yaneli, a UCLA third year sociology major.
There are four core pillars promoted by IDEAS: membership, activism, fundraising, and community service. Each pillar is portrayed through the over-eagerness of the devotees to be creative, supportive, and intuitive for those who rely on their sources of information whether it is in a workshop or while mentoring students and parents in need of resourceful information. “The IDEAS project and its members are immense help. If it wasn’t for them I don’t know where I’d be with my personal statements and my DACA application at this point,” shared service recipient Animo Charter High School senior Aldo, “My mentors have influenced me and changed my perspective of college because at first I didn’t really care to apply if anything a couple of Cal States but now I feel that I have to try and keep going so now I am applying to UCLA and UCI because I now know there are scholarships and hope for undocumented students.”
IDEAS continuous to strive for change in the local communities by increasing the chances and numbers of undocumented students reaching the opportunity for higher education through the humanitarian efforts of these projects. The groundbreaking services provided by the operations of this proactive organization will continue to live on incessantly, determined to bring about equality, change, and immigrant rights to the local communities for the development of California education.