By Noe Ortega
Members of the Salvadoran-American Leadership and Educational Fund collaborated with the Dream Resource Center to share awareness about the Temporary Protected Service Act.
TPS is an act established by Congress in the 1990 Immigration Act that temporarily stopped deportations against people from countries that were destabilized by war or catastrophe.
Currently, there are 10 countries that are designated for TPS: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
SALEF is a non-profit organization that looks at civic participation and representation of Salvadoran-Americans and other Latino communities in the United States and El Salvador.
“Our community doesn’t only exist here in Los Angeles, but it transcends borders. And it’s a transnational community.
“That’s something that’s unique to our organization because our work doesn’t stop at the U.S. border, but it takes on life in El Salvador as well,” Director of Operations at SALEF Jocelyn Duarte said.
Duarte is also a part-time Chicano Studies professor at East Los Angeles College. She spoke about the different programs that SALEF offers, like a summer youth employment program, youth leadership and citizenship services.
SALEF also offers its own scholarship called, “Fulfilling Our Dreams,” which is for Central-American and Latino students.
The scholarship offers financial support for students, regardless of immigration status.
SALEF does require applicants to complete community service hours.
According to their website, SALEF has offered 1,000 of their “Fulfilling Our Dreams” scholarships since 1998 for all Latino students.
“I got this scholarship when I was in Columbia University and my experience in New York was a little tough.
“Being one of the only few latinas and the only Salvadorian in a class of 200 was difficult,” educational manager at SALEF Jazmine Tobar said.
Tobar admitted that it has been difficult for SALEF to get money for the scholarships.
SALEF has fundraisers, sells tickets for galas that they host and works closely with people from the Los Angeles City Council ninth and thirteenth District that give them money for votes.
“We approximately give out 35 scholarships a year, and $1,000 or $2,000 doesn’t sound like much for students who are going to more expensive schools, but it was very helpful with me with buying my books and different things,” Tobar said.
To qualify for this scholarship, apart from being Latino(a), applicants must also prove financial need, have a minimum grade point average of 2.5, proof of community involvement, enrollment in college or university, be enrolled in the medical field and a student from Los Angeles.
The Fulfilling Our Dreams Scholarship has benefited students like Jaci Cortez, who is a student worker at the Dream Resource Center. Cortez accepted the scholarship last year.
“I was looking for scholarships that were Latino friendly and I clicked on the link that said, SALEF. I have never heard of it before but the more I read about it, the more I thought about applying. And now I’m happy to say that I was one of the scholarship recipients that won,” Cortez said.