A $150,000 gift from nonprofit The Change Reaction has created an “Angel Fund” at California State University Northridge’s DREAM Center that will be used to help undocumented students cover the costs of renewing their status under the federal government’s Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Qualifying students can request up to $495, the amount it costs in filing fees to renew an individual’s DACA status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“Navigating college can be challenging for many, and DACA students overcome more than most,” CSUN President Erika D. Beck said. “As a society, helping our DACA students to succeed helps us all because when they leave CSUN they go into the world and play a vital role in our community and contribute to the economic growth of our city and region. This gift amplifies our important work to realize a brighter, more equitable future.”
The Change Reaction was founded in 2019 by Greg and Jodi Perlman and a group of like-minded Los Angeles-based donors seeking to strengthen the fabric of their communities through a whole new way of giving.
“Nothing fulfills me more than being able to support so many amazing, hardworking young men and women who will absolutely be the future leaders of our country” said Greg Perlman, founder of The Change Reaction. “We are grateful to CSUN and the Dream Center for open up opportunities for these great students.”
Among the organization’s efforts is the creation of “Angel Funds” to help partner organizations remove barriers for their clients and to take advantage of opportunities to further the clients’ success. These grants are designed to support specific needs by making an immediate, direct impact on where it is needed most.
“Through the many programs The Change Reaction has launched with my office, I’ve seen lives transformed,” said Los Angeles City Councilman John Lee. “With this gift by the Perlmans, the positive impact, not only to the 1,000 CSUN students, but to our society at large, is truly beyond measure. Today, we stand in solidarity with these hardworking students who deserve to continue their studies and fulfill their potential without fear of detention or deportation, because when they do, we will all be better for it.”
Instituted in 2012 by a memorandum from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the DACA program suspended deportations and provided work permits for more than 825,000 immigrants who came to the United States as children and were living in the country without legal permission. These individuals weren’t eligible to become citizens or legal residents, and faced constant threat of deportation, even as they typically had little or no memory of the country of their birth.
“The generous support from Change Reaction is especially appreciated because it meets the unique needs of DACA students and thereby advances the university’s mission to enable its students to realize their academic goals,” said William Watkins, CSUN’s Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.
The DACA protections are temporary. DACA recipients must renew their status every two years.
“The impact this donation will provide to undocumented students is monumental,” said Daniela Barcenas, manager of CSUN’s DREAM (Dreamers, Resources, Empowerment, Advocacy and Mentorship) Center, provides resources and services to undocumented students, mixed-status families, staff, allies and future students who are undocumented.
“Many of the undocumented students who have the opportunity to apply for DACA are the main financial contributors to their household,” Barcenas said. “This additional responsibility creates barriers when it comes to renewing their work permit, $495 every two-years is a lot of money for individuals already lacking access to other financial resources. We receive questions on financial assistance for D.A.C.A renewal almost daily, now we will be able to share the great news that we can aid. CSUN students will no longer have to wait longer periods of time to renew their permits due to the lack of funds.”
Student Jesus Villegas Martinez said they were grateful for the help the gift from The Change Reaction provides.
“School is stressful — there are midterms, finals, projects, and whole lot of homework,” said Martinez, who also works as a student assistant in the DREAM Center. “And every other year, I’m reminded that I have to pay the government to continue to support its economy. Four hundred and ninety-five dollars is the amount to renew, and I try to always have it tucked away until that dreaded day comes. But, sometimes, I just don’t have it. These moments are tough. A couple years ago, I had the opportunity to have this expense covered by a local non-profit organization which was a huge relieve and I’m excited to see the Angel Fund be that opportunity to prevent this unnecessary stress to so many.”