An Inclusive Approach: City Colleges Strengthens Resources for Undocumented Students

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“To my fellow DREAMers, don’t be afraid to view your undocumented status as a positive,” said Florencia Laino, a recent graduate of Wright College, at a press conference at Harold Washington College on July 29, 2022.

The purpose of the event was to announce strengthened resources for undocumented students like Florencia at City Colleges of Chicago. In accordance with Illinois House Bill 3438, each of our seven colleges now has a designated undocumented liaison—a staff member that can help answer undocumented students’ questions and guide them towards useful resources. Additionally, a district-wide position to coordinate services for DREAMers has been created.

“The addition of Undocumented Liaisons and District Coordinator will further strengthen our holistic support of our undocumented students. On behalf of City Colleges, I am proud we are able to better support their needs with this inclusive approach along with our partners,” said Juan Salgado, Chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago.

The designated liaisons will help undocumented students understand what resources are available to them during their time with us, from free classes to learn English or finish high school, to financial aid and scholarships. In fact, over 90% of scholarships from the City Colleges of Chicago Foundation, as well as the Star Scholarship for Chicago Public Schools graduates, are open to undocumented students.

Florencia Laino addresses the room at a press conference to announce strengthened resources for undocumented students at City Colleges.

For those like Florencia, these resources help to ease the stress of going to and paying for college. She earned the Star Scholarship to fully fund her associate degree and later received TheDream.US National Scholarship Award, which will allow her to earn her bachelor’s degree debt-free.

“From help with paying for tuition to general advice, support is such an important part of college success for the over 17,000 undocumented students pursuing higher education in Illinois,” said Florencia. “That’s why I am so glad that House Bill 3438 passed. It connects students like me with support from a designated Dream Resource Liaison at their college.”

A former undocumented student at City Colleges himself, President Daniel López of Harold Washington College shares the same sentiment. President López discussed his personal connection to the new legislation at the July 29th press conference.

“Having emigrated from Mexico at a young age, Harold Washington College would become my educational lifeline,” said President López. “I am very proud to share that we are offering these enhanced resources, tools, and guidance to every student in our undocumented communities.”

One of those tools is a new website that outlines the various ways City Colleges can assist both current and prospective undocumented students throughout their college journeys. Additionally, the website features resources for faculty and staff, including information about ‘UndocuAlly Training,’ which provides employees with the knowledge they need to better support undocumented students.

To learn more, visit www.ccc.edu/undocumented.

View additional photos from the press conference: