Photo of Sara (left) holding her child (right).
Sara Quezada

Program Participant

"Being part of the Wellness Support Group fueled my inspiration to continue my master’s program so that I can create more opportunities like this for undocumented parents like me."

Photo of Berenice (middle) with her family on her graduation
Berenice Ramirez

Program Participant

"Not only was I happy to receive assistance, but to build solutions and to have community with my cohort is something that I can’t put a price tag on."

Immigrants Rising’s Educational Transitions Coaching provides undocumented students mentorship and guidance to successfully transition to their next stage in life.

Promotional graphic for Educational Transitions Coaching

Immigrants Rising Coaches are experts in working directly with undocumented students. Our coaches will work with you to achieve the goals that you identify between January and May 2022. Coaches support you through active listening, asking questions, and being fully invested in your success. They provide a safe space for you to envision and plan your next steps. Our coaches are part of a network of other undocumented folks and will be able to connect you to a supportive community as well.

Who is this for?

Educational Transitions Coaching is for students who:

  • Attend or are affiliated with one of our Catalyst Fund Campuses
  • Are foreign-born
  • Do not have permanent residency (green card) or citizenship in the U.S.
  • Are available to receive coaching for a span of up to 4 months
What can I expect from coaching?

You will meet with your coach in a 1-1 video zoom call once a week to discuss your situation and empower your actions.

Your coach can support you with:

  • Setting academic goals and academic support
  • Career/post-graduation income generation
  • Guidance on what actions will most impact your goals
  • Legal, academic, and mental health resources
  • Navigating family dynamics
When does coaching begin?

We are not currently accepting any new coaching participants.

Click here for answers to more Commonly Asked Questions.

Immigrants Rising’s Facilitated Activity Groups offer undocumented young people tangible skills, knowledge, and accountability to pursue personal, educational, and professional goals.

Promotional graphic for Facilitated Activity Groups

Join other undocumented students to explore and grow in a topic and build relationships with one another. Facilitated Activity Groups are virtual small-group sessions offered to undocumented students attending California colleges and universities (priority will be given to students attending one of our Catalyst Fund Campuses). Each activity group will meet weekly for 6 consecutive weeks and cover a topic under the umbrella of Immigration, Education & Career, or Entrepreneurship. You will have the opportunity to network and build relationships with other undocumented students. All activity groups will be guided by a skilled facilitator with deep familiarity of the undocumented experience. Check out the scheduled activity groups and register below.

Activity Groups (Available Year-round)

Click on the topics below to learn more and register.

#ICanAffordCollege: Financing a College Education as an Undocumented Student
Schedule: April 12 – May 17, 2022 (Tuesdays, 4 – 5 p.m.)
Facilitator: Cris Mercado

Everyone deserves an education that is enjoyable, fulfilling, and free from constraints. Unfortunately, undocumented students face additional barriers to pursuing their educational goals and enjoying their educational journeys due to the added stress that comes with limited access to financial and campus resources. This activity group will introduce you to strategies, resources, tips, and key actionable steps you can take to finance your college education and advocate for more and better campus resources. By the end of this activity group, you will implement a plan to increase your funding to help you alleviate some of the financial barriers to pursuing your educational goals.

You will receive a Certificate of Completion after attending at least 5 sessions.


Making Money Moves: Preparing for Career & Income Generating Opportunities
Schedule: April 13 – May 18, 2022 (Wednesdays, 4 – 5 p.m.)
Facilitator: Luis Quiroz

Everyone, regardless of immigration status, can make money by building their own businesses and working for themselves. Unfortunately, many undocumented students are graduating with uncertainty about how to maximize their degrees and generate income post-graduation. In this activity group, you will learn how to leverage your skills, knowledge, and experience to generate income through contracting and business start-up opportunities. By the end of this session, you will explore income-generating opportunities specific to you, develop a business plan to guide you through your future income-generating endeavors, and apply for a business grant.

You will receive a Certificate of Completion after attending at least 5 sessions.


Live, Work, Play! Traveling as an Undocumented Immigrant
Schedule: April 14 – May 19, 2022 (Thursdays, 4 – 5 p.m.)
Facilitator: David Cruz

Everyone deserves the opportunity to live their best life! Unfortunately, many undocumented students have missed out on unique and enriching experiences, such as traveling, due to their immigration status and the fears that come with traveling while undocumented. This activity group will give you an opportunity to transcend your physical boundaries by exploring what traveling means to you and learn what travel outside the U.S., across the U.S., and within your own city can look like. By the end of this activity group, you will identify actionable steps to take on your next trip, and have all the information you need to travel safely.

You will receive a Certificate of Completion after attending at least 5 sessions.


Meet the Facilitators

Cris Mercado, Facilitated Activity Group Facilitator
Cris Mercado

Cris Mercado is Founder & CEO of GrantAnswers, a data, strategy & product consulting firm for social impact. Through GrantAnswers, Cris has created processes and content to train +650 emerging, diverse technologists for tech careers. He has also developed systems to help +250 low-income, 1st generation students ascend to college and earn $2 million in scholarships & grants. Trusted by the likes of WSJ, NBC, Teach For America, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce for features, keynotes, and panels, Cris covers immigration, workforce development, education, entrepreneurship, and tech diversity/inclusion. He has a BA in Psychology, and at age 21, he was awarded the MAGNET Fellowship as a top Ph.D. Candidate in Criminal Justice from the City University of New York—later leaving with an MA, debt-free.

Join Cris’ Activity Group — #ICanAffordCollege: Financing a College Education as an Undocumented Student

David Cruz, Facilitated Activity Group Facilitator
David Cruz

David is from a family of entrepreneurs who work in multi-level marketing and photography industries. At the age of eleven, he immigrated to the U.S. from Cuautitlán Izcalli, Edo de Mexico, Mexico with his family and fought through discrimination, patronization for having difficulty speaking English, and systemic oppression of migrants.

David is a competitive swimmer, student leader, and entrepreneur. At the University of California, Santa Cruz, he led Empowering Latino Advancement Through Educational Development (ELATED), an organization founded to create a community and share resources amongst Hispanic/Latino people and undocumented students. He graduated with a double major in linguistics and political science and plans to pursue a master’s degree in linguistics and a Ph.D. in public policy.

David finds joy and peace in seeing others experiencing joy. He enjoys hiking, traveling, and reading. Through the Immigration Law Fellowship, he looks forward to gaining more knowledge in policy and giving back to his community and family.

Join David’s Activity Group — Live, Work, Play! Traveling as an Undocumented Immigrant

Luis Quiroz, Facilitated Activity Group Facilitator
Luis Quiroz

Luis Quiroz is the Founder, CEO and Lead Consultant at Trending Socials. Luis is a creative problem-solver. Over the span of his career, he has managed social media marketing campaigns for the City of San Francisco, and dozens of brands, bloggers, and small businesses.

Luis is a DACA recipient and an immigrant from Guerrero, Mexico. He arrived in the U.S. as an infant after his parents left their home in search of a better future for him and his other siblings. They settled in San Diego, CA where Luis grew up. He now lives in San Francisco, CA, where the business is based.

Growing up, Luis’ mom was a Tupperware saleswoman. He’d be so embarrassed on elementary school field trips when his mom was closing sales with his teachers! But he later understood his mom’s motives- it was necessary to put food on the table. After graduating from San Francisco State University with a bachelor of science degree in business, Luis was inspired by his mother to pursue his own dream of owning a business.

Join Luis’ Activity Group — Making Money Moves: Preparing for Career & Income Generating Opportunities

Adrian (UC Merced)

“Hi, my name is Adrian Buitron Boada. Due to economic hardship, I left my family and friends behind in my home country of Ecuador to come to the U.S. at the age of 16. Despite the social and language barriers I faced, I continued to strive to realize my dreams. Currently, I am pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at UC Merced and am passionate about helping my community in any way possible.”

Alejandro (San Joaquin Delta College)

“Hi, my name is Alejandro García Del Río. I am a graduate of Cesar Chavez High School and currently enrolled in my first year at San Joaquin Delta College as a business major. I am a Mariachi musician who plays trumpet with a group and even does trumpet repairs on the side. I am very outgoing and love to hang out with friends and jam with other musicians. I’m always open to trying new (and old) things.”

Ana (CSU San Marcos)

“Hi, my name is Ana Cardenas. I have a bachelor’s degree in sociology and I am in my first year of a master’s program in sociological practice. I am passionate about social justice, particularly the rights of immigrants and low-income people of color.”

Celia (Santa Ana College)

“Hi, my name is Celia Serrato. I was born in Michoacán, Mexico and I am currently a student at Santa Ana College where I am an UndocuScholars Fellow and a member of IDEAS Club. I am co-owner of HerbalHermanasCo., which was featured as one of the 10 Latina-Owned Businesses You Need on Your Radar by As a firm believer in community mutual aid, I love sharing my knowledge of herbs, medicine-making, and entrepreneurship as well as hosting mini-workshops. Currently, I am collaboborating with other undocu-folks to create a collective on Southern California for undocumented people, including a market exclusively for undocumented vendors. I believe that if there is not a spot at the table for you, you make a table.”

Daniela (College of the Desert)

“Hi, my name is Daniela Torres. I live in Desert Hot Springs and I’m a student at College of the Desert in the Health Science program. I aspire to become a registered nurse and then continue my education by studying dermatology at UCLA.”

Elizabeth (Antelope Valley College)

“Hi, my name is Elizabeth Olajide. I am an enthusiastic beauty professional with a great attitude and a passion for the art of braiding, extensions, and wigs. I have a caring nature and am very empathetic, organized, emotionally stable, and adaptable. I am now venturing into the world of nursing and hope to finish mydegree by the fall of 2021.”

Esther (Rio Hondo College)

“Hi, my name is Esther Alvarez and I came to the U.S. when I was 2 years old. Now, I am 20 years old and live in El Monte, California. I am a full-time nursing major at Rio Hondo College and a mom to a beautiful 11-month-old daughter. I am outgoing, loud, and fond of meeting new people and hearing their stories. I’m thankful to be a Catalyst Fellow and excited for what’s to come.”

Hachi (Sierra College)

“Hi, my name is Hachi Capistrano and I am a current student at Sierra College in the Allied Health: Pre-Nursing program. I never expected to be able to attend college, which is why it is one of my proudest achievements. My goal is to become successful and give back to my community because I know what it is like to have nothing. I am proud of the woman I am becoming and look forward to continuing to learn every day.”

Irma (North Orange Continuing Education)

“Hi, my name is Irma Andazola. I am 48 years old and was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. I migrated to the U.S. in 1998 and studied English at North Orange Community College. I live in Anaheim, California and am a single mother of two beautiful girls (9 and 11 years old). It was not easy to start over in a new country, butI had to be brave in order to be a good role model for my daughters. I am the kind of person who likes to learn something new every day and always tries to see the positive side of every situation. I love to volunteer in my community.”

Jihye (Fullerton College)

“Hi, my name is Jihye. I am a Pre-Nursing and Pre-Dentistry student at Fullerton College, where I have completed all my nursing courses and am currently taking additional dentistry courses. I have volunteered at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton and am currently volunteering at Emnate Hospital in West Covina. As a fellow, I hope to gain valuable experience and motivate my peers.”

Jose (MiraCosta College)

“Hi, my name is Jose Mendez Entrekin. I am 32 years old and this year I will be graduating from MiraCosta College as a theatre major. At MiraCosta I founded the Undocumented People Rising in Solidarity and Empowerment (UPRISE) club in 2018, and in 2019 I was elected President of the Associated Student Government where I was able to advocated for the undocumented and mixed status community. My goal is to work in theatre, television, and film as an actor, director, and producer. I am also a certified yoga instructor.”

Juan (Oxnard College)

“Hi, my name is Juan Martinez. I am a third year student at Oxnard College hoping to transfer to a UC. I am a mechanical engineering major who is also interested in history, archeology, and English. I am a first-generation college student and the oldest sibling of the family. I strive to be a good example for my family and peers in everything that I do and look forward to working with the other fellows.”

Julio (San Diego City College)

“Hi, my name is Julio Nunez Garcia. I grew up in California and am currently enrolled in community college studying to become a mechanical engineer. I’m a hard worker with a 4.0 GPA who wakes up every day ready to give my all. I am thrilled to be a Catalyst Fellow. I look forward to uplifting the immigrant community and showing the world that education empowers.”

Lisbeth (West Hills Community College)

“Hi, my name is Lisbeth Gasca. I am 19 years old and in my second year at West Community College. My plan is to transfer to UC Davis in the fall of 2021 where I hope to major in chemistry and pursue a career in the field. I am involved in hosting workshops to help stuents who are undocumented, come from an immigrant background, and are interested in STEM, to apply for scholarships. My goal is to host workshops in five diffferent high schools in my area by the end of February.”

Luis (San Diego Miramar College)

“Hi, my name is Luis Manuel Diaz García, but my friends and peers call me Manny. I am 20 years old and I was born in Acapulco, Mexico. I am a dreamer and my favorite hobby is writing poetry. My least favorite thing to do is wait. I really want to see a world in which we can all be united because I believe together we are truly stronger.”

Luis R. (Cypress College)

Marco (Reedly College)

“Hi, my name is Marco Ferreyra. I am kind, caring, friendly, and easy to get along with.”

Maria (CSU Stanislaus)

“Hi, my name is Maria Fernanda Perez Garcia. I was born in Tehuacán, Puebla, Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. with my family a day before I turned one. My family settled in Pomona, California and then moved to Riverside where I grew up. After my parents divorced, times were tough but my sisters and I were lucky to have an inspiring and empowering role model: my mother. From her we learned how to be strong, independent women and how to have a positive mindset. I am into women’s empowerment, as well as helping undocumented students like myself to overcome their educational obstacles. I am very excited to represent Stanislaus State and look forward to making it a better place for my fellow undocumented students.”

Maria "Gaby" (Laney Community College)

“Hi, my name is Maria Leal Robleto. I am 25 years old and originally from Nicaragua, but currently live in Oakland where I attend Laney Community College as part of the Puente program and am pursuing a degree in Spanish. I have been a fellow with Immigrants Rising and a volunteer at Clinica de la Raza. I am legally blind, fun to work with, and enthusiastic about learning new things despite my disability. I am very passionate and committed to everything I put my mind to.”

Maribel (CSU San Bernardino)

“Hi, my name is Maribel Bustos. I am a hard-working woman who has found a lot of joy in my family and loves them very much. I am currently enrolled at CSU San Bernadino and am committed to studying hard until I reach my goal of graduating.”

Maricarmen (Hartnell College)

“Hi, my name is Maricarmen Gonzalez. I was born in Mexicali, Mexico and immigrated to the United States at age 6 with my wonderful, hardworking parents. I am a first generation student and will be transferring to Sacramento State next fall. I am currently a business, communications and economics major and wish to pursue a career in marketing. I am an extrovert who loves to sing, dance and spend time with friends and loved ones. I also love reading, listening to music, exercising my body and enjoying nature. I have come through tough obstacles, but that has never stopped me from reaching my goals. I am undocumented and unafraid.”

Mariela (Butte College)

“Hi, my name is Mariela Luna. I am currently pursuing a degree in biology at Butte College, though I hope to transfer soon to UC Davis to study biological and animal science. One day, I hope to become a wildlife veterinarian or zoologist. Although I love all things science, I also have a passion for drawing and painting, which is made me consider a career in scientific illustation. One thing I know for sure is that I am motivated and driven to accomplish my goals and I look forward to what the future holds for me.”

Maritza (Bakersfield College)

“Hi, my name is Maritza Gonzalez. I am a first year student at Bakersfield College where I am pursuing my nursing degree. I hope to transfer to a UC to earn my bachelor’s degree in science. I am a mother of a 5-year-old girl. I love DIY projects and being active in the community. I also like to gain as much knowledge as I can so that I am able to help others in need. “

Oluwatobi (LA Southwest College)

“Hi, my name is Oluwatobi Babalola. I am 27 years old and a mother to a beautiful 7-year-old princess. I moved to the United States when I was 19 years old for school and in search for greener pastures. My aspiration in life is to become a nurse practitioner and enjoy life to the fullest. Happiness is an important virtue for me.”

Pedro (Sonoma State University)

“Hi, my name is Pedro Ortega. I was born in Nayarit, Mexico and raised in East Palo Alto, California . I am in my third year at Sonoma State University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communications. I was a Boy Scout in high school so I love the outdoors, as well as trying new food, creating art, traveling, and spending time with loved ones. I aspire to one day have a company of my own or a career in marketing.”

Sharen (Los Angeles Trade Technical College)

“Hi, my name is Sharen Hudaja. I have roots in China, was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, and migrated to the United States at the age of 10. I am currently pursuing a degree in business administration at Los Angeles Trade Technical College. My dream is to become a marketer for Apple or a cosmetic company.”

Sherifa (Long Beach City College)

“Hi, my name is Sherifa Momoh. I’m the oldest of three children raised in a loving Nigerian household and am currently attending Long Beach City College. I hope to gain admission to UC Irvine in the fall of 2022 as a psychology major and political science minor. I consider myself an exceptionally stubborn individual who finds it hard to given up on any task and has a tendency to daydream a lot about the future. I hope to one day attend law school and practice immigration law. Outside of school, I enjoy hiking, suspense novels, anime, weightlifting, and virtually any outdoor activity.”

Yusbely (Cuesta College)

“Hi, my name is Yusbely. I was born in Sinaloa, Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. with both my parents when I was 1 year old. 17 years later, I became a first generation college student. I hope to gain my communications degree and business certificate so I can continue to create innovative ideas that don’t just serve myself, but many other people too.”

Yvonne (San Diego Mesa College)

“Hi, my name is Yvonne Silva. I am a first generation college student and a DACA recipient. I earned my undergraduate degree at Cal State Northridge in kinesiology. Later, I decided to return to school and got accepted at San Diego Mesa College in their Physical Therapy Assistant Program. My goal is to help patients who have had a stroke, TBI, Parkinson’s Disease, or other neurological diagnoses. “

Cris Mercado, founder and CEO of GrantAnswers
Cris Mercado: Becoming An Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur, Program Participant

"Through entrepreneurship, I found that I had more control than I thought."


Entrepreneur, Program Participant

"There's a ceiling with DACA. Yes, you can work, but there is a ceiling. And that ceiling I wanted to shatter."

“This fellowship gave me a space for personal and professional growth. It expanded my knowledge on how I can be successful even without DACA” — Catalyst Fund Fellow, 2019-20

The Catalyst Fund Student Fellowship grants participating students the opportunity to gain visibility, knowledge, and a strong voice on their campus, as well as provide invaluable input to campus staff and administrators who serve undocumented communities.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for consideration, an applicant must be:

  • An undocumented individual (not a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident)
  • A student at one of 32 Catalyst Fund campuses
  • Enrolled (full or part-time) for college coursework during the 2020-2021 academic year
  • Committed to actively participating in this 9-month leadership and mentorship fellowship
  • Committed to completing a (yet to be determined) project in their field of professional or academic interest
  • Committed to participating in a monthly webinar training offered by Immigrants Rising with a cohort of 32 students from UC, CSU, and CA Community College Catalyst Fund Campuses

The 2019-2020 application period is now closed. The deadline for all application materials was Monday, July 6th, 2020.


Please feel free to send any questions to Estefania Hermosillo, Community Education Lead at Immigrants Rising:

Kai Martin

Entrepreneur, Program Participant

"The drive and the hustle just became natural to me. I was determined never to sit still and never say I couldn't do it, because I know I can always find something to do."