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Immigration Coalition and Partners Launch College Guide to Demystify the College Process for Immigrant Parents

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Thanu Yakupitiyage,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 x235,  E-mail: tyaku@thenyic.org
New York City  (Wednesday, March 20, 2013)

Immigration Coalition and Partners Launch College Guide to Demystify the College Process for Immigrant Parents


Joined by Citi Community Development, CUNY, NYC Department of Education, Public Officials, Schools, Media, and Community Groups

In a packed room at John Jay College today, the New York Immigration Coalition and its partners launched their parent guide to college readiness geared specifically for immigrant parents, “Your Children Can Go to College…Yes They Can!”. The guide was developed in collaboration with the NYIC’s Education Collaborative member organizations, the Internationals Network for Public Schools, the New York City Department of Education and the City University of New York. Partner organizations, including Citi Community Development, El Diario/La Prensa, Sing Tao Daily and NYC College Line, were all present at the launch as well.

The guide meets a critical need on the part of immigrant students and their parents for accessible and easy-to-read information on the college process. Written at the sixth-grade level, the guide serves as an entry point for navigating the complex American systems of higher education and financial aid.

The guide is accessible online at: http://www.thenyic.org/education/parentguide

[Photo above] Guides are available in Spanish, English, and Chinese currently, with versions in six other languages to be produced in the coming year.

In New York City alone, approximately 60 percent of students are immigrants or children of immigrants, and 40 percent have a parent that speaks a language other than English at home. Many new immigrant parents are still learning English and may never have gone to college themselves. A series of focus groups conducted with immigrant parents across ethnic groups in every borough brought to the fore a primary concern raised by immigrant parents: the inaccessibility of resources to help their children access higher education. The guide, presented in the format of engaging personal stories of immigrant families, provides guidance on the college preparation and application process. Parent workshops based on the guide will also be offered citywide at schools and community organizations.

[Photo above] The NYIC and its partners introduce the guide at a launch at John Jay College of Criminal Justice today.

“Sometimes it seems like you need an advanced degree just to figure out how to apply for college,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “Imagine how much more complicated it is if you’re new to the country, don’t have any familiarity with the American higher education system, and may not speak English well. This guide lays it out in plain language—in your own language!--turning the mysterious into something understandable, making college seem less daunting in the process, and giving immigrant parents the tools they need to help their children along the path to college.”

[Photo Above] Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition holds up the college readiness guide. To her left are Mae Lee, executive director of Chinese Progressive Association, Mitchel Wu, program manager at Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Hina Naveed, representative for El Centro del Inmigrante on Staten Island, and Veronica Mirafuentes, a parent with La Union standing with La Union's executive director, Leticia Alanis.

Speaking at the press conference today was a wide range of community organizations, corporate and media partners, consulates, educational leaders, and public officials.

“This guide is a critical support for immigrant parents, who are very often not familiar with the school system in the United States and how to access college for their children,” said Claire E. Sylvan, executive director and president of Internationals Network for Public Schools. “Having this guide in the major languages spoken by their families will be a real help to our schools in their work to provide students and families succinct, clear information about pathways to college.”

"I am so proud of what we have achieved with this guide," said Eileen Auld, Citi Community Development’s Tri State Region Director. Citi Community Development provided significant support for the translation, design, and printing of the guide. "Through our collective efforts we are reaching a very important demographic in New York City - immigrant students and their parents. For Citi Community Development, college success is one of the key focus areas of our work because we believe that education opens doors and provides opportunities that enable success."

[Photo Above] Eileen Auld, Tri State Region Director of City Community Development speaks about the guide.

“Just as my grandparents did, immigrants from around the world move to our great city with the hope of giving their children a better life and a future with more opportunities than they had. It is imperative that we help immigrant parents navigate our complex higher education systems so that these aspirations can come true,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “The college process is overwhelming for most families, but a lack of familiarity with the US education system and language barriers make it even more complicated for many immigrant parents. As a result, many bright students never get a shot at college for lack of guidance and advice. That is why I am proud that the Council has sponsored workshops in several different languages to make higher education more accessible to these immigrant families and better prepare them for college.”

“A college education is an important step in a student’s path to success,” said NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott. “The journey to college can be challenging for families, especially those who are non-English speakers and have never gone through the college application process. The New York Immigration Coalition has produced a helpful guide that will assist families and their children in preparing for college.”

“The College Guide will provide invaluable help to immigrant parents and their families as they navigate the maze of higher education advancement and the costs of college attendance,” said Jay Hershenson, CUNY’s Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the Board of Trustees. “Our entire city will be the beneficiary as a result and as more of its people are assisted in climbing the educational ladder to upward social and economic mobility.”

[Photo above] Jay Hershenson, CUNY’s Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the Board of Trustees speaks about CUNY's partnership in creating the guide. From left to right are representatives from partner organizations: Vanda Belusic, Executive Director, Office of Postsecondary Readiness, Department of Education, Lisa Castillo-Richmond, Director, Graduate NYC, Sara Valenzuela, Immigration and Education Liaison, Office of Speaker Christine Quinn, Eileen Auld, Regional Director, Citi Community Development New York Tri State, and Claire E. Sylvan, executive director and president of Internationals Network for Public Schools.

"El Diario/La Prensa is committed to ensuring that Latino families receive the information they need to help our sons and daughters access higher education. We know this is the gateway for our community's success and we are delighted to promote the Parent Guide initiative," said Rossana Rosado, CEO/publisher of El Diario/La Prensa.

[Photo above] Erica Gonzalez, executive editor of El Diario-La Prensa, speaks about El Diario's promotion of the guide.

“The Chinese version of the guide will reach immigrant families with an action guide that provides information and guidance on financial aid, student loans, finding the right college and related materials,” said Queenie Chen, assistant advertising & marketing manager, Sing Tao Daily, and Liz Ho, director, marketing and communications, Healthfirst, Inc, in a joint statement. “It is certainly a benefit to the Chinese community.”

[Photo above] Queenie Chen, assistant advertising & marketing manager at Sing Tao Daily makes remarks on the distribution of the parent guide in the Chinese community. To her left stands Liz Ho, director, marketing and communications, Healthfirst, Inc.

"Many Chinese immigrant students are at a disadvantage because parents do not have the information and resources to support them through the college application process,” said Mae Lee, executive director, Chinese Progressive Association. “This guide is a great resource and important first step in providing parents in our community with the knowledge to help their children through this important part of their lives."

“La Unión members welcome with joy the launching of the College Guide for Immigrant Parents, which we helped develop and which we will use as a tool in our work to enhance parents' access to key information on college readiness,” said Leticia Alanis, executive director of La Unión. “La Unión’s parent-led group, Padres Organizados por la Educacion, present here today, is advancing a campaign in Sunset Park to promote parent leadership in education, and will develop informative sessions based on this guide to give parents the tools they need to achieve their most cherished goal: seeing their children thrive through an excellent college education. Let's take advantage of this guide and other resources to make every young person college-ready and support their success in any career they choose!”

Lisa Castillo-Richmond, director, Graduate NYC, said, “Graduate NYC! is very pleased to partner with the New York Immigration Coalition to support the rollout of this parents’ guide. This college information is critical for the many families who speak Spanish or Chinese as a primary language and for the health of the City itself, as we continue to aim for higher college participation and completion rates among young New Yorkers.”

“The government of Mexico is very aware of the many challenges facing our diaspora in the New York area,” said Carlos M. Sada, Consul General of Mexico. “We firmly believe that higher education is the cornerstone of a better, brighter and more prosperous future for our immigrant families and we strive to inform and empower our community to engage in and take a leading role in their children’s academic development. As we continue to work with academic institutions, community-based organizations and other partners in education, we welcomed the opportunity to work with the New York Immigration Coalition in the Parent Guide to College Readiness, which we believe will be an invaluable asset in raising awareness among parents and preparing our youth for their road to integration and progress.”

[Photo above] Consul General Carlos M. Sada, Mexican Consulate speaks about working with the NYIC on the college guide.

“The Guatemalan government works to encourage our citizens to reach out for education; as a consequence, we have established a very important alliance with the New York Immigration Coalition,” said Guatemalan Consul General Oscar Padilla-Lam. “The guide will be a great tool for the Guatemalan families in New York, so they can understand and be able to help their children achieve higher education in this country. We are pleased and thankful to cooperate with the New York Immigration Coalition in this important initiative.”

[Photo above] Ambassador Rita Claveri De Sciolli, Guatemalan Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs speaks. Standing beside her is Consul General Oscar Padilla-Lam, Guatemalan Consulate.

“The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) is excited to see the release of the Immigrant Parent Guide,” said Mitchell Wu, program manager at CACF. “As an advocate group for the diverse pan-Asian Pacific American (APA) community, we work to ensure that all children and families grow up safe, healthy, and have equal opportunities to be successful. As the fastest growing group in NYC, APAs make up approximately 14% of the population, and face many challenges. Currently in the public school system, 1 out of 4 APA youth do not graduate on time or at all. APAs make up 20% of all English Language Learners (ELL), and ELLs have the lowest high school graduation rate. 28% of APA families live in linguistic isolation, which means that no one in the household over the age of 14 speaks English well or at all. Many of these families do not understand the American education system and do not know how to access resources. We want to commend NYIC and all of the partners that worked on this to ensure that immigrant parents and families do have the guidance and resources to be a part of their child’s future success. We look forward in working with the Department of Education and community partners to make sure this will be available and accessible for the different groups in their native languages and to continue to support our vulnerable immigrant community groups.”

The guide is the result of a broad collaboration across sectors for which the New York Immigration Coalition, our Education Collaborative members, and the Internationals Network for Public Schools are grateful. Initial support from the Donors Education Collaborative at the New York Community Trust helped shape our dream of a guide for immigrant parents into reality. The New York City Department of Education and CUNY provided significant input and support. Citi Community Development provided the backing for the publication of the guide in English and Spanish, and Sing Tao, HealthFirst, the Mexican Consulate and El Diario together ensured the Spanish and Chinese versions. The Guatemalan consulate printed the insert about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, ensuring the inclusion of timely information about the program, which offers a real incentive for young people to stay in school, return to school and pursue college. All of these partners, along with Graduate NYC and others, will help disseminate the guide. Over the coming year, we expect to publish the guide in several more languages, including Arabic, Haitian-Creole, Korean, Urdu, Bengali, and Russian.

The following organizations are members of the NYIC education collaborative and conducted the focus groups that informed the development of the guide:

Asian Americans for Equality, Chinese Progressive Association, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, El Centro del Inmigrante, Flambwayan Haitian Literacy Project, La Union, Metropolitan Russian American Parents Association and Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

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