¡Saludos! I write to you with the hope of health and safety for you and your family during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I also write to you with the news that effective yesterday, Monday, April 20, 2020, I no longer work at the National Latino Research Center (NLRC) at California State University San Marcos.
After dedicating 18 years working at NLRC conducting community-based participatory action research, I am now dedicating 100% of my time and passion to expanding the work of Universidad Popular, a community-based initiative that a group of colleagues and community partners started over a decade ago. We offer educational and civic opportunities for anyone interested in becoming more civically involved in our communities. I am inspired to carry forward the human rights and social justice work that is close and dear to my heart and that is much needed in our community.
For the last seven years, Universidad Popular has worked collectively to serve our community. We have secured a physical home at Centro Universidad Popular nestled in the heart of Vista to serve the most underserved and disenfranchised members of our community. We offer service learning and internship opportunities for hundreds of college and university students. We provide a research space for dozens of researchers to connect with community members. We also provided meeting space for dozens of partner organizations. Most importantly, we have successfully created a safe and welcoming center for youth and families.
Moving forward, Universidad Popular will expand our community education programs and services throughout North San Diego County with the continued goal of nurturing community knowledge, fostering appreciation for traditional know-how, strengthening family unity, and increasing community cohesion.
One of our major goals is to continue and grow programs such as Cultivando Liderazgo for youth and adults interested in becoming more involved in civic affairs. Cultivando Sabiduria for our elders to share their wisdom about healing practices, crafts, farming, ancestral cooking techniques, and writing. Simultaneously, the youth will teach elders technology, partner in physical activity, and conduct multimedia projects. Cultivando Salud to promote healthy living using ancestral knowledge and culturally empowering practices. Cultivando Libertad for justice impacted families to have a meeting and learning space. Our purpose is to build power in a unique multi-generational and culturally responsive setting where we learn and teach together.
Even though our in-person programs are currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Universidad Popular will continue leading major education and civic engagement priorities throughout the North San Diego County region including Census 2020 and emergency/disaster education. Universidad Popular is a member of the Count Me 2020 coalition, a non-partisan coalition working to ensure a complete population count in the 2020 Census. In partnership with Alianza Comunitaria, we will continue coordinating closely with community partners to make sure la comunidad Latina gets counted.
Universidad Popular is working directly with immigrant families to navigate the community's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impacts. Immigrants are employed in sectors in which they are “essential” workers who have to work and are risking their health and the health of their family members. Also, we know that there is the lack of protections in the workplace, restricted access to safety net programs, low pay, and ineligibility for unemployment insurance all serve to increase their vulnerability to contracting the virus, losing their jobs, and suffering from hunger and other critical needs. Universidad Popular is partnering with San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (SDIRC) and other organizations and service providers to do everything we possibly can to provide critical information in Spanish regarding COVID-19 and to facilitate access to resources to address critical needs in our community.
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Through our comite de asesores and network of lideres comunitarios, Universidad Popular will continue to be guided by community priorities. On behalf of our entire Universidad Popular familia, we THANK YOU in advance for your ongoing support and invite you to continue collaborating with Universidad Popular. Together we will ensure that our family, friends, and neighbors are thriving and engaged. You can reach me via email at [email protected] or [email protected].
Arcela Nuñez-Alvarez, Ph.D.