Undocumented immigrants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Peru, and the Philippines are the inaugural winners of grants from a new Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC) initiative, FUSE, “launched to foster and provide financial support for the entrepreneurial projects of undocumented young people working to create positive social change.”
222 undocumented young people living in 26 different states submitted proposals, with the five winning projects selected based “on the importance of issues they address, the innovation of the strategies they employ, and the positive social impact they will create,” according to the E4FC release.
“Over the next year, FUSE will disburse $250,000 in grants and provide these entrepreneurs the mentorship, coaching, and support they need for their projects to succeed.”
The project is in collaboration with leading national figures and entrepreneurs, including Emmy Award-winning journalist Jorge Ramos, The Grove Foundation, James Gutierrez, Jeff Hawkins, Elisha Wiesel, and Robert, Colleen, and Elise Haas, and Unbound Philanthropy.
In particular, the project has looked for applicants from the African and Asian diasporas, as well as leaders who identify as members of the LGBTQ community, and is open to all regardless of immigration status. E4FC expects to release applications for the next round of FUSE grants in mid-2017.
From E4FC’s press release, the applicants chosen for this year’s grants:
The Family Reunions Project (project leaders: Alvaro Morales & Frisly Soberanis)– The Family Reunions Project (“FRP”) uses virtual reality (“VR”) technology to challenge physical borders and reunite undocumented immigrants to their families, hometowns, and home cultures. VR is hailed for its ability to transport. FRP utilizes this power to give undocumented immigrants and their families more immersive and meaningful connections to one another. VR reunions will begin with off-line, edited “VR postcards” but will soon include live-streaming and 3D-mapping. For more information visit: http://e4fc.org/frp.html
Gleam (project leader: Aashna Shah) – Gleam helps mental health professionals optimize the treatment they provide. It gives patients a secure digital platform to practice their therapeutic exercises, allowing them to stay connected to the recovery process at all times. Then, using deep text analysis, Gleam provides progress analytics to mental health professionals. These analytics give therapists deeper insight into their patients. Gleam is modeled to work with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is the fastest growing form of therapy in the United States. For more information visit: http://e4fc.org/gleam.html
The International Association of Trans Bodybuilders (project leader: Neo Sandja)– The International Association of Trans Bodybuilders (IATB) is an organization for Transgender bodybuilders. Since 2014, IATB has organized three bodybuilding and one powerlifting competition with a total of 32 competitors and media attention from major television networks. IATB competitors are ambassadors of change who inspire beyond body image and educate our society on Trans issues. For more information visit: http://e4fc.org/iatb.html
KeyJargon (project leader: Cris Mercado) – KeyJargon is an easy-to-use, free mobile career app that features key events, key organizations and industry keywords to boost the employability of young professionals. It allows users to quickly brush up on what to know and connect with whom to know across various career areas, so that they can build an authentic professional network and make great impressions on paper and in person along the way to securing career opportunities. For more information visit: http://e4fc.org/keyjargon.html
The “Yo Quiero Ser Micro-empresario/a” Project (project leader: Maria Mendez) – As Chicago’s first licensed “Mobile Prepared Food Vendor”, María Mendez is committed to helping other street vendors contribute their rich culinary culture by becoming licensed prepared food vendors and successful micro-entrepreneurs. The “Yo Quiero Ser Micro-empresario/a” project will advocate for policy changes to benefit the over 1000 food cart vendors in Chicago. For more information visit: http://e4fc.org/yqsm.html