WiseUp! is a CHIRLA initiative to organize high school students—both undocumented and allies—around immigrant rights, and full access to educational opportunities.

The program welcomes students to groups in schools who participate in CHIRLA activities, build their leadership skills, and prepare them for college.

Why is this necessary? California guarantees education to everyone, including children without status, from kindergarten to 12th grade. Higher education is a different story. In the 1990s, anti-immigrant efforts intensified to close college doors to undocumented immigrant students. WiseUp! activates students to keep that from happening, engaging them civically to fight in the legislative arena and the public square for measures that ease their access to education and citizenship.

WiseUp! students attend local and national workshops, conferences, presentations and rallies to learn how to participate in policy debates, analyze power maps and encourage leadership actions in their own schools. 

Timeline

  • Aug 5, 2020

    1986

    Leticia A., a high school graduate, was the main plaintiff in a lawsuit in Alameda County pushing to let undocumented students pay in-state college tuition. A state court ruled in her favor, setting a precedent for other undocumented graduates.

  • Aug 5, 2020

    1986-1991

    Creation of the Leticia A. Network, a group of educators helping undocumented youth pursue a college career.

  • Aug 5, 2020

    1991

    A Los Angeles Superior Court judge overturns the Leticia A. case.

  • Aug 5, 2020

    1999

    WiseUp! at CHIRLA grows out of this early organizing to also fight for legalization and citizenship. Young people encourage their peers to '“wise up'' and take action to win their future.

  • Aug 5, 2020

    2001

    WiseUp! helps win passage of AB540, which lets undocumented students pay in-state tuition at California public colleges. It was one of the first won victories in the nation to open college doors to undocumented youth once meeting certain requirements.

  • Aug 5, 2020

    2001

    Student Adjustment Act introduced for the first time in Congress to give undocumented young people a path to citizenship. It becomes the DREAM Act, which has yet to become law.

  • Aug 5, 2020

    2013

    WiseUp! students help win approval of the California DREAM Act, which lets undocumented students apply for financial aid for college.

  • Aug 5, 2020

    Today

    WiseUp! Continues to fight for the full access to quality education at the high school and college level. WiseUp! Fights for the day where undocumented students will be formally recognize as part of this nation. 

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Summer Internship Program

The WiseUp! internship program allows high school students to spend intensive time with mentors building their leadership skills and learning about their rights. Each year, we select students from 15 Los Angeles high schools and train them to go back to school as activists, prepare themselves and others for college, and have a place to belong.

WiseUp! Scholarship Program

For the past three years, CHIRLA has awarded scholarships to undocumented graduating seniors in the WiseUp! program to give them an extra leg up in paying for college expenses. These students do not have as many chances to apply for financial aid for school as other California students.

When president Trump ended DACA in 2017, he also ended their access to DACA-related financial aid programs and work permits that allowed them to pay school expenses themselves. Even though the Supreme Court reinstated DACA, we do not yet know how much access graduating students will have to these benefits.

WiseUp! scholarships are CHIRLA’s effort to level their chances and reward their participation in the movement. The scholarships depend on donations from CHIRLA supporters and members. Please donate to this fund. Help a WiseUp! student today realize their potential tomorrow!

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WiseUp! Campaigns

Bold Vision Youth Campaign

A partnership among grassroots organizations, foundations, elected officials, and government agencies to improve the lives of youth of color in Los Angeles County through policy and systemic change.