A Low Interest Loan for the Puente Human Rights Campus
Margi lives in Colorado, she discovered RG a year ago and attended the 2013 MMMC. Margi works as an environmental educator, and her focus on education access stems from an overarching desire to align her money with her values.
As a young person with access to wealth and class privilege I consider migrant justice one of the most direct areas where I can leverage my privileges to directly increase equity. Now is a particularly exciting time to be involved with migrant justice because it is at the forefront of advancing civil rights in the US. My interest was sparked last fall when my students in Colorado were applying to college and encountered barriers because they didn’t have papers, even though their families came to the US from Mexico before they can remember. Like the 1.4 million other DREAMers who have attended school in the US their whole lives, my students are being systematically denied access to higher education because they aren’t citizens of the US. For example, my students were given misinformation about federal financial aid from college counselors and they weren’t able to fill out some college’s online applications without social security numbers. My students were aware of DACA but didn’t know that last summer our state also passed instate tuition for undocumented childhood arrivals. I committed to financially supporting my students’ access to higher education by seeking out ways to understand and address our broken immigration system in a larger context. This year I have donated a total of $20,000 to support migrant justice at local, state, and national scales.
Through my involvement with Resource Generation, I have found the support and mentorship I needed to put more of my money to work in support of migrant justice. After attending the Making Money Make Change (MMMC) conference for the first time last year I became part of the Hummingbird Collective, a migrant justice giving circle in Arizona, which has given me courage to act boldly. I visited Phoenix with other Hummingbird members last spring and my sense of outrage at families being torn apart in Arizona combined with my anger that my students, and young people around the country, are structurally being denied higher education. My outrage and anger fueled my commitment to address such blatant injustices. The image I carry with me of Puente, from my brief visit, is of a vibrant grassroots organization, led by the people most affected by Arizona’s unjust immigration system, on the front lines of advancing civil rights in the US.
The relationships the Hummingbird Collective has developed over the past four years allowed me to make a $400,000 low-interest loan to Puente, which enabled them to purchase the Puente Human Rights Campus in Phoenix! This loan invests in Puente, a community-led migrant justice movement; by purchasing this property they will better be able to meet the needs of their growing constituency. The loan redistributes my unearned inheritance as I seek a more just way to live. I see this loan as a way to invest powerfully in social returns. While others may see me incurring a financial “opportunity cost,” I suggest that any money not actively doing good is paying a steeper opportunity cost. I want my money to support, not inhibit, reaching our collective potential. I want to leverage my money to support a larger movement creating a just and sustainable future. It has been an honor to work to work with such visionary leaders at Puente and through RG. I hope you will join us in this exciting and rewarding fight for migrant justice!
I recently had the opportunity to visit Puente in their new space and witnessed both physical and intangible benefits of this loan. Puente owns the property and buildings of their Human Rights Campus. The new space sends a clear message that this movement is here to stay, strengthening how they and others perceive their work. Puente’s work is no longer limited by tiny offices, for example now they have a room big enough to fit their growing membership during meetings and they have spacious offices for their legal advisors, staff, and interns. The new space changes collective imagination of what is possible. It is so exciting to see Puente growing and literally putting down roots in so many senses, including tearing up asphalt and growing food.
The resounding message I am hearing at this moment from people on the ground is: Obama’s announcement extending Deferred Action is a hard won success that is worth celebrating but it is also important to keep fighting for the millions of people who don’t qualify and there is still urgent need for just immigration reform. At Puente’s meeting many of the people there weren’t eligible to apply for deferred action because they don’t have US born children or they may have a criminal record from unjust laws. Many of Puente’s members have fought long and hard for this incremental gain but wont directly benefit. At the meeting they also raised concerns about people who are now eligible for deferred action but are currently in detention centers or were already deported. They want to make sure the message gets out that the people who now qualify for deferred action need to be released and allowed to return, we need to extend Deferred Action to more people that includes pathways to citizenship. In the immediate future Puente is working on getting city ID cards approved and on the horizon is a Truth and Reconciliation campaign to pass a state bill for driver licenses and in state tuition for undocumented residents.
As a donor I am proud to have been able to contribute financially to the brick and mortar buildings that now house this movement. I’m leaving this visit regrounded in the inspiring work Puente is doing. I leave grateful for the perspective of the urgent need for, and the tangible results from, their organizing. And I am reinvigorated in my own efforts at multiple levels: to continue my personal work (understanding how to leverage my privileges to dismantle oppressive systems), engaging my colleagues (bringing more white people into working for racial & economic justice), and as an ally to community-led efforts in my hometown.
Learn more about Puente here! Another great community-driven investment project to check out is ReGenerative Finance.