Donald Trump’s presidency has inflicted fear among many communities, especially in the immigrant community due to remarks made throughout his campaign to remove DACA and deport millions of undocumented immigrants.
To begin helping undocumented high school students and show them that they are not alone, Kate Brien, an AVID/TOPS teacher at East High School, and students have started fundraising by selling t-shirts to create a scholarship for at least one undocumented AVID/TOPS student.
The t-shirt displays a tree made up of a fist to show solidarity and colorful leaves to symbolize the many marginalized communities (including LGBTQ+) whom are under attack. It also reads “They try to bury us, but they don’t know we are seeds,” a message many students can relate to.
“In AVID/TOPS, our students, like most of their peers, have difficulty with the financial burden that comes with attending college. Unlike other students, however, our undocumented students cannot receive federal financial aid. The adults in AVID/TOPS have witnessed far too many students sacrifice their dreams, and everything they’ve worked hard for, in exchange for more affordable options. This is heartbreaking and infuriating. Our AVID/TOPS students stand with their undocumented peers, and our SEED scholarship is one way to show this,” Brien said.
There has been talk within the AVID/TOPS programs about creating a scholarship for undocumented students for years, but staff struggled to think of an effective way to fundraise such money. The way the scholarship would be perceived by the greater community was unknown since immigration has always been a difficult subject to discuss. “The past few months clearly illustrated that the need for such a scholarship exists now more than ever, and we were confident that like-minded people would step up in support of students whose dreams and ambitions include a post-secondary education,” Brien explained.
Brien and students hope to fundraise at least $1,000 to provide one SEED scholarship—whose name encapsulates the message on the shirt as well as the idea that this scholarship promotes student growth—for at least one undocumented AVID/TOPS student. To their surprise their fundraiser has gathered an immense amount of support with over 300 people, from over 21 states, and the District of Columbia, buying in excess of 500 shirts.
Thanks to the overwhelming support, Brien and students are confident they’ll be able to meet their goal of making the SEED scholarship sustainable so that every undocumented AVID/TOPS senior would be awarded this scholarship in the future — a number that changes from year to year.
The fundraiser is only going until December 16 but if the demand keeps growing once the shirts are out in public, sales will re-open for another month in mid-January.
T-shirts can be purchased at https://pogo.undergroundshirts.com/collections/east-high-school-mexican-proverb-pickup (for a January 4th pick up) or at https://pogo.undergroundshirts.com/collections/east-high-school-mexican-proverb-shirts-shipping for a home delivery on January 4th.