|OUSD press release-Virtual Press Conference Announcing Campaign Set for Tuesday
Oakland, CA — Educators in Oakland Unified School District have started a campaign to help vulnerable undocumented families during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. They have created the website StimulusPledge.org for people to pledge some or all of their coming stimulus checks to undocumented families who will not receive assistance from the federal government. Oakland educators hope their campaign will spread to school districts throughout California and the nation as the undocumented community across the country faces this unprecedented economic and healthcare crisis.
“We have created a new way to mobilize community support for vulnerable families by making it easy for concerned community members to share some or all of their stimulus checks,” said Bridges Academy Principal, Anita Iverson-Comelo. “We want every school and every district to take advantage of what we’ve developed.” The website also takes donations from those who won’t receive a stimulus check.
Through calls to families, OUSD educators have learned that up to 75% of immigrant families have seen income greatly reduced or completely eliminated in the past several weeks because of the shelter-in-place order. Additionally, due to their immigration status, the families are ineligible for government assistance such as unemployment benefits or the approximately $600B that will be distributed through stimulus checks. “As principals, we know there is a huge need in the community. Everyone is struggling, but undocumented families receive the least support and are particularly vulnerable. StimulusPledge.org has created an opportunity not only for educators, but also the larger community to come together and help our hard-working undocumented families,” said Emerson Elementary School Principal, Heather Palin.
Unique in its approach, the Stimulus Pledge is based on a behavioral economics concept called pre-commitment, whereby people commit to taking a specific action with an anticipated financial windfall. This concept has been effectively used with tax refunds and is now being applied to the stimulus checks that are arriving this week. Anyone can take the pledge at https://stimuluspledge.org/.
While many school districts that serve immigrant families, such as OUSD, have food distribution programs to ensure that there is some food on the table, the need is far greater than that. Many families are having trouble buying medicine and paying utility bills and rent. It’s also common to face a major barrier to accessing resources due to lack of transportation.
Families, many of whom were already living paycheck to paycheck, are now put in an extremely difficult financial situation. “So many of my students’ families who I’ve talked with are under tremendous financial stress and have absolutely no money left. Whatever resources that were available to undocumented families in this crisis have dried up or are not accepting new applicants. I can’t emphasize enough how dire the situation is for the families we serve,” said United for Success Academy middle school teacher, Cassandra Chen.
The campaign organizers are holding a virtual press conference with principals, teachers and affected families on Tuesday morning. Once again, anyone can take the pledge to donate some or all of their stimulus check to Oakland’s families in need at https://stimuluspledge.org/.
StimulusPledge.org is a coalition of Oakland educators and non-profit organizations committed to helping undocumented families most impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic by making it easy for those receiving a stimulus check to pledge some or all of it to families who will receive no federal assistance. To take the pledge, visit: https://stimuluspledge.org/
|About the Oakland Unified School DistrictIn California’s most diverse city, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is dedicated to creating a learning environment where “Every Student Thrives!” More than half of our students speak a non-English language at home. And each of our 83 schools is staffed with talented individuals uniting around a common set of values: Students First, Equity, Excellence, Integrity, Cultural Responsiveness and Joy. We are committed to preparing all students for college, career and community success.
To learn more about OUSD’s Full Service Community District focused on academic achievement while serving the whole child in safe schools, please visit OUSD.org and follow us @OUSDnews.
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