Current Heart Award Winner
Teens Mobilize Community to Support Dream Act
Community: Montgomery County, MD
The DC area is home to many undocumented immigrants who make up our workforce, neighbors, and student populations. Students who have undocumented status have restricted access to public education compared to their legally documented counterparts. Specifically, in pursuing higher education, tax-paying families and individuals are disqualified from in-state college tuition, which often eliminates higher education as a possibility.
How can we thrive as a community if we are systematically reducing the number of young people in our neighborhoods who can pursue higher education?
In the state of Maryland, the Dream Act (Senate Bill 167) would allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition. However, the Dream Act may be overturned if the proposition against it is passed.
Prusse Kakpovi, a high school student in Montgomery County, along with a team of other youth from the Gandhi Brigade, a youth media organization, dedicated their summer with one mission: to educate and mobilize the community to support the Dream Act.
They researched the issues and then produced a documentary film that follows the story of an undocumented student in Montgomery County who is trying to overcome the institutional hurdles to go to college. They also developed a set of campaign posters with help from professional artists at Pyramid Atlantic.
The youth held a campaign kick-off event at the Civic Center in Downtown Silver Spring in December 2011 to debut their documentary and posters and bring this critical conversation to the community. Through this project, the youth intend to make an impact by increasing awareness in the community about the Dream Act and issues that undocumented immigrants face. Furthermore, they aspire to mobilize citizens in their own community to learn about and vote to support the Dream Act. Keeping the legislation from being overturned will in turn impact the lives of many students, many educational institutions, and employers and the community at large.