CDFF Newsletter: Final Report

Monday, January 22, 2024

Final Report: Summaries and Highlights 

Hello and welcome to the final issue of the California Dignity for Families Fund (CDFF) Newsletter Series: Learning for Immigrant Justice. Thank you for reading and subscribing to this newsletter! 

It was a special opportunity to talk with our nonprofit partners and spotlight recommendations from CDFF, a $25 million partnership with California Gov. Gavin Newsom that aims to provide urgent humanitarian relief and assistance for unaccompanied migrant minors and their families throughout the state.

For this final issue, we wanted to highlight our key takeaways from the past year. We hope the findings from our newsletter series will further inform your understanding of the support and services provided by our nonprofit partners and inspire you to invest in their work with migrants. 
Follow the lead of nonprofit partners
CDFF took a unique and innovative approach to funding nonprofit partners by establishing a set of principles that value the knowledge and lived experiences of immigrant justice movement leaders. This strategy allowed CDFF to gain a deeper understanding of the needs of migrants at the border and the needs of the nonprofits doing the work to serve and advocate for them.
By forming an advisory committee of movement leaders, CDFF is now poised to build a more-effective and sustainable support infrastructure to address the challenges facing migrants as they arrive to the U.S.

Invest in rural communities

Rural communities lack the funding and resources of their urban counterparts. One of the biggest challenges facing legal organizations is the lack of qualified immigration attorneys, especially in rural areas. The result is a “legal desert” in rural communities.

Many funders prioritize resourcing areas where they think they can have the greatest impact (dense urban areas), but this excludes rural areas. Funders need to engage in place-based philanthropy, in which a geographical location is strategically selected for support.

"Rural communities have specific needs related to their relative isolation and reduced access to services.They often lack access to transit, internet connectivity, and other basic resources. Immigrants in rural communities often work in agriculture, which is extremely dangerous, with significant health hazards and often exploitative working conditions."
– Ivy Suriyopas, Vice President of Programs at GCIR

Foster collaboration between legal and humanitarian groups

Holistic case management is a service provision model that views the client as a whole person and consolidates legal and humanitarian assistance, streamlining the process of providing aid and giving the client one point of contact. 

Funding and encouraging collaboration and networking between legal and humanitarian organizations is an efficient and effective strategy to providing holistic case management to migrants.

Support BIPOC leadership

Organizations that serve Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities are often excluded from grantmaking priorities, which is why CDFF made a focused effort to prioritize funding BIPOC-led nonprofits that serve or are in solidarity with migrant communities. As a result, 77% of CDFF-funded nonprofits have leaders who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color.

To further support BIPOC-led nonprofits, funders can remove barriers that often prevent BIPOC-led organizations from accessing funding, including stringent requirements on budget size and tenure of the organization; an intense focus on scalability; and a shortage of open RFP opportunities, which can exclude smaller or newer grantees. 
Race and ethnicity of leaders of CDFF-funded nonprofits.
Expand language access

There are a multitude of languages (over 40!) spoken by incoming migrants and there is a dire need for a diverse network of translators and interpreters. But advancing language access must go beyond simply hiring a staff translator.

Funders must understand the need for:

•    Robust, intentional language access plans and staffing.

•    Dedicated, consistent, trained interpreters that speak a range of languages and dialects.

•    Sufficient resources for professional and accurate translation of a broad range of applications and documents.
"Being able to communicate in the language you are most comfortable using is vital to receiving proper medical care, benefits, and legal services, and for accessing democracy."
– Homayra Yusufi, Deputy Director of Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA)
Bolster funding for long term legal services

The legal process of seeking asylum can take several years for some clients, which means a multi-year commitment to a single individual. That in turn means that multi-year funding for organizations is needed in order to provide consistent and uninterrupted legal services to clients in the migrant community.
“The U.S. government has overwhelming backlogs which prevent swift processing of applications. Long-term funding acknowledges the importance of MILA maintaining its presence for its community.”
– Liza Diniakos, Program Manager for MICOP’s Immigration Legal Assistance Program (MILA)
Provide unaccompanied youth with mental health services

Just last year, 127,447 unaccompanied children crossed the U.S. border and were released to sponsors. And while legal aid, food security, and housing are the most pressing needs of migrant youth, many of them also need mental health support.

Many unaccompanied children have experienced trauma in their home countries due to factors such as gang violence, poverty, and political turmoil. On their journey to the U.S. they were at risk of and may have experienced trafficking, kidnapping, and abuse. Once in the U.S., these children are far from home, separated from their parents and often unable to speak the language of their new community. 

Trauma and mental health issues can limit a child’s ability to function and can prevent them from being able to perform in school, work, or form bonds in their new community. Many unaccompanied children have experienced a disproportionate number of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which can impact their mental health. This means that ongoing access to long term health care is vital for migrant children.
"For immigrant children, ultimately the sense of belonging in a community is key."
– Hannah Chotiner-Gardner, Chief Development Officer of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
Thank you for subscribing to this newsletter series. And an extra big thank you to the CDFF partners who took the time to share their thoughts and insights on the topics we covered.

The newsletters will be archived and accessible to all. If you missed any of the issues, we encourage you to read and share!
  1. Principles of the fund
  2. The value of investing in rural communities
  3. Holistic case management
  4. Seeding the growth of BIPOC leadership
  5. Language access
  6. Legal services for migrants
  7. Unaccompanied youth migrants and mental health