Gente con Poder y Solidaridad (GPS)

Locating our people. Mapping power.

Photo of Jesenia Avila-Ugalde
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Date Started

OCT / 1 / 2017

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

We are daughters of immigrants from Latino backgrounds. Every day we are thinking of the possibility "what if ICE comes for us?". Whether we look the part, or we are in the "wrong places" - this is something that we share in common. We know from personal experience what a family goes through when they are being separated. Some of us have lost family members, some of us have came too close to it, and all of us know too many people that have had losses. We came together to say "enough!", and do something about it since family is something that is deeply rooted in our culture and we know it leads to terrible consequences.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

The ultimate problem we are trying to solve is the monetization of deportations. We are trying to decrease the number of deportations in our city, distribute resources, and build our political power. The problem with deportations and detentions are similar to the prison pipeline that affects growth, health, and success of both groups of targeted people.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our project starts with canvassing in a local neighborhood that we are familiar with. We will distribute an information packet that includes a "know your rights" book, a resource packet that includes list of address and phone numbers of community resources (health, immigration, education, and sanctuary), and a quick survey that asks if they know any one that has been deported in the last 12 months (they can share their story if they would like and we will keep a voice recording of it), and if they are eligible to vote, we will have voting registration cards for them. Once we canvass more neighborhoods, we hope to gain volunteers to expand and try to go to every Latino in the city and make sure they have this information - including passing our information outside of Mexican stores and churches. Once we demonstrate that our community needs attention, we hope to gain funding and try to go statewide with our project.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Hypothetical: We go to a house in a neighborhood we are canvassing in, and a mother answers the door. We give her an information packet and she wants to get involved. She can help us canvass and point us to other communities that she knows. She becomes part of our organizing team and we empower her. She's a victim of the deportation machine - she knows what it's like to have their husband deported and left with children to take care of. Together we empower each other and she starts a project to work with other mothers in the same situation to, not only, financially sustain themselves and their families but help each other heal. Since we have also made connections to other neighborhoods, we can direct all mothers to this project from all over the city. Now they won't feel alone nor helpless.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Our project is not different from other projects in this country. We can't claim that. BUT because we are in Kentucky and not California - we are the only ones putting this action into works. We are doing this to build awareness AND build latino political power - thats something that hasn't happened yet. Not even in the biggest city in Kentucky. This is what drives us. We know that these are perhaps old ideas, we have been to conferences and events across the country learning what amazing things they have done in places like California, Phoenix, etc. Its Kentucky's turn.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

We have not started canvassing yet, but we have all the parts in place. We as young people, will learn as we go. We know that keeping track of all of our encounters will already make a difference. We hope to collect stories, distribute information packets, and map out where our latinos are and how many have shared their stories and registered to vote. During a sanctuary movement here in Louisville, we went to a church that served a big number of Latinos to collect more signatures, but we also explained to them what this means for our community. We had a huge success. I specifically remember an old lady that came up to us, thanking us the "dreamers" for doing this for the community. She started crying telling us that they treat us like animals and sometimes she loses hope, but it makes her happy to see the young people trying to do something about it and standing up against it.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Once we have reached most of our city and distributed our packets, we want to map all of our data, look for funds/sponsorships and expand. Our dream for this project is to have a bus and do a road trip to reach out to small communities in rural areas and canvass there. We hope to have enough funds to make this happen and have professionals to provide services in those rural areas where resources are scarce. With all this we hope to diminish the deportation-machine and have a state-wide sanctuary for children who's parents have been deported. We know about the recent government issue in which they "lost" track of thousands of immigrant children. Our plan is to prevent this but we know we need to seek justice and take care of these children.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

We know we need a lot of volunteers to reach the whole city. We have a lot of allies that we can count on but we need to have incentives for some people to put in the work they want. We need enough funds for our team and to pay people to do this full-time. We know we will need materials for printing, and technology to map out all of our statistics efficiently.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Mentors/advisors

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

Part of our goal is to also build solidarity between our Latino community and other immigrant communities and other causes. Our team has strong ties to Black Lives Matter Louisville, SURJ (Showing up for racial justice) and other organizations. We want to help empower them as well and work on projects together to share resources, build or strengthen our political power, and protect each other. We hope to meet with other immigrant community leaders to share our resources and our strategies so we can all be on the same page and change the world..

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media


Join the conversation:

Photo of Leah Graves


I love that you are ready to fight! Every day on the news we are seeing and hearing these stories about deportation and many of simply don’t know where to start. I would love to see more stories from families that are affected so we can bring this off the headlines and into people’s faces. Use Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter to document the accounts of the people you come across to bring it to life! I am very proud of you young lady keep organizing and find a way to help those affected!

Photo of Alissa

Your heart is absolutely in the right place! I sincerely hope that you are able to put your project into motion and make a difference in your community!

Photo of Queen Trapp

This project idea is so important, especially in this day and age. I am so glad people like you have these ideas to help curb this issue. I also believe your established connections are important, and will really help you spread your project state and nation-wide.