Bold Idea Update: Webinar Convenes Thought-Leaders on Supporting Immigrant Students


Conceived as a way to both capitalize on and grow AlumniCorps’ extensive network of its program alumni and nonprofit partners, The Bold Idea started with a two-year pilot focused on immigration. Implemented in partnership with Appleseed – a network of public interest justice centers throughout the U.S. and Mexico – the initiative has attracted a variety of new partner organizations to our work. As a key aspect of this project, we have organized a series of webinars on specific topics of interest around immigration. The second webinar in the series was entitled Supporting Immigrant Students in Universities. It was held on September 27, 2018, and attracted 99 registrations and 45 participants to tune in live and engage with the speakers.

Yurilka Hernandez, Mariana Paola Sarmiento Hernández, and Ariana Mora Mero, guest speakers on the Bold Idea webinar.

Sahand Keshavarz Rahbar ’17, AlumniCorps’ Bold Idea Fellow, now in his second year, found the featured guest speakers for the webinar by first leveraging our connection to Princeton University’s Khristina Gonzalez, Associate Dean of the College and Director of Programs for Access and Inclusion, and asking for suggestions. After some extensive research, he was referred to Mariana Paola Sarmiento Hernández (center), a graduate student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and founder of the UndocuNetwork student organization; and Ariana Mora Mero (right), Program Coordinator, Services for Undocumented Students, at the University of California (UC), Merced. AlumniCorps had recently engaged Dr. Laura Quiros, Associate Professor at Adelphi University and consultant, to co-facilitate an Emerging Leaders professional development session on diversity, equity, and inclusion (see page 2 for details). Dr. Quiros recommended inviting Yurilka Hernandez (left)— a psychotherapist at the Acacia Network in New York City with over 10 years of experience in the areas of mental health, cultural competency, and immigrant families— to join the panel. Once again, AlumniCorps’ personally connected network catalyzed the convening of experts on a public issue.

Guest speaker Mariana Sarmiento shared a photo from a recent Undocuweek event with us: ‘UndocuFemme and Unafraid.’

The three guest speakers provided a wealth of resources: Yurilka shed light on the impact of deportation on children and young adults, including those protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. Mariana spoke about the process of institutionalizing resources for undocumented students in higher education, while Ariana spoke about the implementation of an orientation program for undocumented students at UC, Merced. A free recording of the webinar can be found on the AlumniCorps website or obtained by emailing our Bold Idea Fellow .

Bold Idea Update

160 attend webinar on trauma and mental health in immigrant and refugee communities

As part of the Bold Idea initiative, Princeton AlumniCorps and Appleseed hosted a webinar presentation and Q & A on the topic of trauma and mental health in immigrant and refugee communities. One-hundred and sixty viewers from all over the United States tuned in to listen and learn from Dr. Usha Tummala-Narra and Dr. Maria Nardone about the various aspects of trauma, including the effects of the current political climate on mental wellness and the generational impact of chronic stress on immigrant families.

A girl holding a doll, arrives with others migrants at the refugee center in the town of Presevo, after walking from Macedonia to Serbia on August 26, 2015. At least 2,000 more migrants flooded overnight into Serbia in a desperate journey to try and go on to Hungary, the door into the European Union, a UN official said on August 24. More than 9,000 people, mostly Syrian refugees, have arrived to Serbia those last three days. AFP PHOTO / ARMEND NIMANI

The Bold Idea initiative seeks to bring together practitioners, academics, policymakers, and funders from both within and beyond the AlumniCorps network for dialogue and action over a three-year period. The current iteration of the Bold Idea is a two-year pilot focusing on immigration issues. AlumniCorps, in partnership with Appleseed, a network of 17 public interest centers in the United States and Mexico, received a grant from the Hewlett Foundation to promote network-based collaboration focused on the issues facing immigrants and refugees.

Get free access to the recorded webinar here. To learn more about empowering immigrant communities, come to our Princeton Reunions 2018 panel, In the Service of Humanity: Empowering Immigrant Communities on Friday, June 1 at 2:00pm in the Neuroscience Building. Get more details here.

The Princeton AlumniCorps Bold Idea

Back row (right to left): Bob Kettle (Connecticut Appleseed), Stephanie Beaugh (Louisiana Appleseed), Dee Flaherty (Appleseed Network), Annette LoVoi (Appleseed Network), Dan-el Padilla Peralta ’06 (Princeton University, Princeton AlumniCorps), Debra Erenberg (Consultant), Kef Kasdin ’85 (Princeton AlumniCorps), Renee Steinhagen *81 (New Jersey Appleseed), Caryn Tomljanovich (Princeton AlumniCorps), David Tipson ’96 (New York Appleseed), Christy Kane (Louisiana Appleseed).
Front row (right to left): Adriana Abizadeh (Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund), Rocío Villalobos (Texas Appleseed), John Heilner ’63 (Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund), Sahand Keshavarz Rahbar ’17 (Princeton AlumniCorps), Shaina Ward, Maru Cortazar (Mexico Appleseed), Malcolm Rich (Chicago Appleseed).

On October 16 and 17, Princeton AlumniCorps hosted a convening at Princeton University enabling dialogue and promoting action on immigration and refugee issues.  The meeting, a launch of AlumniCorps’ new Bold Idea initiative, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, brought together nonprofit and public interest organizations, practitioners, academics, policymakers, and funders.

The agenda included presentations on the current federal landscape of immigration policy and the local impact of these policies on vulnerable communities and the direct service organizations that work with them. The convening also provided opportunities for the 29 participants to engage with one another and brainstorm potential avenues of collaboration. The discussions culminated in a series of immediate project priorities for further engagement, with the aim of consolidating the budding partnerships between the different attendees while expanding the circle of participation as the initiative moves forward.

As President and Executive Director of AlumniCorps Kef Kasdin noted, “This meeting and our Bold Idea represent the heart of what Princeton AlumniCorps is all about: mobilizing people, organizations, and networks for the public good. We are grateful that the Hewlett Foundation has catalyzed this effort through their generous support.”

Emerging from the most recent AlumniCorps strategic plan, the Bold Idea endeavors to leverage the resources, strengths, and experiences of AlumniCorps’ considerable network of 600 partner organizations, 200+ volunteers, and 2,000 program alumni to make a palpable impact on an issue of public interest. The Bold Idea concept was inspired partly by previous endeavors undertaken by AlumniCorps in its early years, like the Tuberculosis Initiative (1997-2002). This first iteration of the Bold Idea, with a focus on immigration, is a two-year pilot that will extend into 2019. AlumniCorps will use the network-building insights gleaned from this pilot to select a new Bold Idea topic every three years.

To bolster the collective impact of this initial pilot project, AlumniCorps has partnered with Appleseed, a network of public interest legal centers throughout the United States and Mexico with a successful track record of developing bi-partisan solutions to persistent and challenging social issues. “Our commitment to network building and collaboration strongly aligns with the mission of AlumniCorps” said Deirdre Flaherty, President of Appleseed, “We are excited to harness the power of our combined networks on this key and timely issue.”