Disclaimer: Content on the YP4 blog does not necessarily reflect the views of Young People For or People For the American Way Foundation. The views, ideas, statements or claims posted on this site by members of the public cannot in any way be attributed to either Young People For or People For the American Way Foundation.
Imagine growing up in the United States and graduating from high school, only to be hit with the realization that your future is being compromised due to immigration laws and your parents' undocumented status. This is the story of many students: supported by New York's "don't ask, don't tell" policy for high school enrollment but undermined by their legal status and the subsequent denial of access to higher education.
George Mtonga, a 2007 YP4 Fellow at CUNY Hunter, has designed a year-long mentoring program to directly address the needs of these students.
With no legal status, undocumented students have no access to financial aid or college registration services. Realizing that the comfort of high school leaves students psychologically and financially unprepared for the obstacles they will soon endure, George proposed a program in association with the Vanderbilt YMCA and Norman Thomas High School that seeks to provide legal advice, academic mentorship and help sessions, and a support network to help students navigate through the many barriers to a promising future.
George's program, Young People for the American Dream, works to "put [students] in the position that will help them have a solid ground to demand an education." Through a carefully crafted curriculum based on workshops such as "Student Immigration Services" and a mentorship program with Hunter College's Students Political Science Association, George hopes that by December at least 50 percent of the program's high school students will be involved in the application and enrollment process.