Oakland teachers launch fundraising campaign to help undocumented during coronavirus outbreak

Teachers in Oakland on Monday announced a campaign to help raise money for undocumented immigrants, who are not eligible for any federal stimulus help. 

Oakland Unified School District educators launched StimulusPledge.org where the public can pledge some or all of their coming stimulus checks to undocumented families. 

Up to 75% of immigrant families in the district have seen income greatly reduced or completely eliminated in the past several weeks because of the shelter-in-place order, according to OUSD. 

San Francisco teachers last week announced they would be donating their own checks to a similar fund. And other Bay Area groups have also been raising funds for those who are undocumented as well. 

Coronavirus quarantine is becoming catastrophic for undocumented immigrants

 “As principals, we know there is a huge need in the community," said Emerson Elementary School principal, Heather Palin. "Everyone is struggling, but undocumented families receive the least support and are particularly vulnerable."

The Stimulus Pledge is based on a behavioral economics concept called pre-commitment, where people commit to taking a specific action with an anticipated financial windfall.

While many school districts that serve immigrant families have food distribution programs to ensure that there is some food on the table, Oakland teachers say they know the need is far greater than that.

Many families are having trouble buying medicine and paying utility bills and rent. Other families don't have cars, which makes their lives even more difficult. 

“So many of my students’ families who I’ve talked with are under tremendous financial stress and have absolutely no money left," said United for Success Academy middle school teacher, Cassandra Chen. "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."

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at lisa.fernandez@foxtv.com or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez 


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