Updated: 01/26/2014 10:23 AM
Created: 01/25/2014 8:31 PM KSTP.com
By: Brandi Powell
Right now a local non-profit is working with students who can benefit from the Minnesota DREAM Act. It passed 7 months ago. There’s a lot that NAVIGATE Minnesota is doing to get those initial waves of students utilizing those benefits.
The Minnesota DREAM Act allows undocumented students to do things such as apply for in-state tuition rates and state financial aid. It’s the middle of the school year, but NAVIGATE Minnedota is working closely with families to make sure they’re meeting deadlines.
Keeping their traditions in tact, while competing to be the best in the Twin Cities: Emilia Gonzalez Avalos says a non-profit called NAVIGATE Minnesota is helping local Latinos with that balancing act. Gonzalez Avalos said, “We have the education and information component, and we also have the advocacy, to change systems components so we did work around the Minnesota DREAM Act.”
And products of NAVIGATE Minnesota, like Itzel Ortiz Lopez say they are still working hard to inform students and parents that the DREAM Act passed. Ortiz Lopez said many people in her community still do not know about the DREAM Act or its benefits. “The state is allowing us to get loans, scholarships, all the help that we can get financially.”
Ortiz Lopez owes her high school diploma and achievement awards to NAVIGATE Minnesota. When she first started getting guidance and confidence from the local non-profit she said to herself, “I think I can do this, I think I can make it!”
And she has; enrolled in a local community college with a 4.0 GPA, all while giving back to the next generation. “That is what I'm doing right now, planting the seed, and I will help them have a better view of their future."
A future, with comprehensive immigration reform; which is their next push. “The biggest challenge continues to be family separation, and we are trying to work on that, because children need to go to school and they need their parents around."
All this, to become some of Minnesota’s next leaders. "I love it when kids talk like that, when they tell me what they want to be, yeah, you can do that, oh yes you can!”
Officials expected at least 500 students to apply for the state’s financial aid program. NAVIGATE Minnesota hopes there will be even more in this next group, as they continue to work with the local Latino community.
By the way, NAVIGATE Minnesota has just three staff members and is operated by donations only. If you’d like to give, or need help on how to get into college in Minnesota, log onto http://www.navigatemn.org/.