Integration of Immigrants: Results

Integration of Immigrants: Results

Highlights of progress through December 2010

The work of MCF’s 17 grantees in this Community Grant area has provided needed services and opportunities for more than a thousand low-income immigrants to improve their current situation, thereby helping them continue to contribute culturally and economically to the community. In addition, grantees and other immigrant-serving agencies have built stronger connections and increased communications with each other to lay the foundation for a county-wide platform for immigrant issues.

We have also learned that MCF’s role in the community can extend beyond grantmaking to include bringing outside resources to local stakeholders and delivering new research to inform and mobilize community conversations about immigrant integration in Marin. An example of this is our partnership with the California Immigrant Policy Center to provide media and advocacy training to a group of MCF grantees. We also commissioned the Migration Policy Institute to develop a research paper on the economic contributions of immigrants in Marin.

The Foundation’s funding of English as a Second Language and Vocational English as a Second Language (focused on specific jobs) classes is based on their importance to the immigrant community and their value as a stepping stone to integration and economic viability. Eleven of MCF’s grantees have provided English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. A highlight of this work included the establishment of a new set of vocational ESL classes at the College of Marin, which helps to serve the community’s demand for English instruction that teaches workplace skills in childcare, health care, and hospitality.

We’ve also learned that communications and advocacy are critical to the issue of immigrant integration. This year, a group of 15 grantees and other immigrant-serving agencies re-branded themselves to form the Marin Immigrant Rights Advocates (MIRA), refocusing their efforts from an inward-focused service-oriented group to an advocacy-oriented group. This past year, MIRA members learned how to develop effective media and advocacy practices with the help of the California Immigrant Policy Center. The preliminary results of the training show promise, with publication of the group’s first opinion piece in the Marin Independent Journal and the development of a media and advocacy action plan for 2011. The collective work by our grantees raises the stakes of the conversation to a level beyond their own individual agencies, which is essential to creating the conditions for immigrant integration.

Recently released 2010 Census data indicates a growing stable (i.e., not migrant) immigrant population in Marin. According to this data, Marin’s current population of 253,000 includes 47,500 foreign-born residents. The number of Marin’s foreign born has doubled since 2000, with the largest immigrant population coming from Mexico. One third of all of Marin’s children are children of immigrants. Rapid demographic changes like these have sparked tension and debates in Marin. Policy issues—such as E-Verify (a measure that would require employers to submit further employee identification records to the U.S. government), the lack of public housing, the need for translation and interpretation services in Marin’s public schools, and traffic enforcement leading to deportation—have created conditions that undermine effective immigrant integration in Marin.

The Foundation’s contribution to this area has increased accessibility for immigrants and has given both Canal Alliance and College of Marin an opportunity to plan a partnership and share resources to better serve and reach immigrants seeking English proficiency. Overall, our support for immigrant-serving agencies has helped open a space for them to build a shared identity, agree on values, and pursue avenues to be leaders and participants in community conversations.

By the numbers:

Area of Measurement For period 5/09-12/10 Goal of Five-Year Plan
Number of immigrants better prepared to work and/or are acquiring work 1,322 1,850
Number of immigrants benefiting from health, social, and legal services 3,958 2,800
Number of immigrants demonstrating increased levels of community participation and/or volunteerism 371 600
Number of immigrants enrolled in ESL and VESL classes 1,541 (for period 7/10-12/10) 4,450

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