Chapter 5 – UndocuAlly Training

As part of the drive to eliminate systemic racism in the California Community Colleges, the system has committed to prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) at the heart of our work. We can — and will — take a giant leap toward being a system that truly works for all our students.

Every person within the California Community College system has a crucial role in creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive space for all students. Every department, faculty, and staff is responsible for undocu students’ needs. It is a must for everyone to assess their process and practices to make sure they are creating a welcoming environment for undocu students. To truly institutionalize holistic support for undocumented students, we must prioritize the need for intentional training for all California Community Colleges faculty, staff, administrators, board members and student staff. Trainings aim to produce a positive change in the functioning of our system. The implementation of trainings should not only be a responsibility of the Undocumented Student Center and or UndocuLiaison on your campus. Every department has an important role to play in continuing the journey of making all of our colleges UndocuFriendly spaces for our students and their families.

An UndocuAlly training is a professional learning opportunity for educators to gather skills and knowledge about undocumented students, communities, and students from mixed-status families. By emphasizing trainings on your college campus, you are supporting the retention and graduation of this community.

UndocuAlly trainings invite faculty, staff, and administration to take responsibility for learning about the unique obstacles undocumented communities face and taking action. In addition, UndocuAlly trainings also allow us to learn about the resilience and capital that undocumented students possess.  It is important to note that true institutionalization of services includes a shift of the entire system’s culture and a commitment to building a strong infrastructure of support beyond centralized resources and services, like dream resource centers and undocumented student services.  UndocuAlly trainings provide education on the legal and legislative mandates that impact the undocumented community and highlights equitable practices that practitioners can use in their everyday commitment to support UndocuScholars.

A good UndocuAlly training provides the audience with a perspective on how everyone has a role to play when supporting the unique needs of undocumented students. It also promotes actions to create a more inclusive space for undocu students.

All campus staff, student staff, instructional and non-instructional faculty,  administrators, and Trustees should receive basic training and undergo UndocuAlly professional development on campus or through community agency.

Consider creating UndocuAlly trainings that also help train specific departments that interact with undocumented students. Admissions and Financial Aid Staff may need training that is specific to their roles. In contrast, Counselors might need training that covers scenarios they encounter when serving undocumented students while simultaneously navigating the standards and/or code of ethics of their profession. Outreach and Human Resources departments also face unique challenges when supporting undocumented students. For example, the need to understand the DACA hiring process and promising practices of providing equitable hiring for this community.

Administrators might want to set an example for others by advertising the training, providing release time for their staff to participate, developing paid opportunities for full time and part time faculty and staff, and participating in training themselves.

              Fullerton College and MiraCosta – Administrators UndocuAlly Training

Although specific departments should be prioritized when offering training, as your capacity grows, consider developing trainings for others, including your local high school and adult education partners. It is important to facilitate trainings for K-12 Educators and community partners because they often have developed a close relationship with students and can provide a referral to a trusted resource for students. This eliminates losing the student in the onboarding process from high school to our community colleges. UndocuAlly trainings also raise awareness that attending college is a possibility for undocumented students. In reality, many undocumented students do not even know college is possible and are unaware of the aid and resources available to them. Here are some departments to consider: Principals/Directors of schools, K-12 Counselors & Nurses/health professionals, School Psychologists, College Advising, Career Advising, CTE-CCAP Advising/Teaching, Dual Enrollment staff, AVID coordinators/counselors/instructors, MESA coordinators/counselors/instructors, ESL/ELL departments and Staff, Student Ambassadors (for summer and supplemental programs), etc.

Lastly, consider prioritizing student ambassadors and student staff to participate in UndocuAlly trainings. They are often the first contact for their peers in student services windows. They are also well connected to clubs and student resources and having the right training can guarantee they will share resources with their peers. 

Although there is no legislative requirement to pay participants for training, we highly encourage you to consider providing some compensation for participants including regular work time, professional development credits/flex credits, faculty service requirements, etc. As you develop the strategy to provide compensation, consider opportunities for part-time faculty and staff.

Identify a content expert who can lead this area or an emerging expert who can partner with outside agencies or resources. It is critical that the presenter/speaker have experience working with undocumented scholars and community, has a robust understanding of the unique challenges, and presents themself as an Ally for change. This does not necessarily have to be the Undocu Program “liaison” or staff. Some community colleges have partnered with their local CSUs or UCs. This builds continuity of care and true collaboration across systems of education. Other colleges have partnered with the Faculty Unions and Classified Unions to serve a`s leads for UndocuAlly Trainings on campus. If funding is available, also think about contracting consultants to come and train a small group of individuals with a train-the-trainers model. UndocuAlly Training is a great opportunity to engage allies who would like to volunteer in your center. Perhaps they can participate in a train-the-trainers model and be on call as presenters for upcoming training opportunities. Also, consider compensation for your trainers as they present and spend time updating curriculum and logistical work around UndocuAlly trainings. Legislation and implementation change constantly around undocumented students’ efforts and it is vital for UndocuAlly trainings to reflect these changes.

UndocuAlly Trainings usually consist of a two-hour training session. However, this is an important discussion to have as you coordinate your training structure. Some colleges have chosen to provide a three-hour training with a lunch break included. Other colleges opted for a series of one-hour training sessions instead of delivering all the content at once. It is important to note that a lot of content needs to be covered during a training session, but not everything is relevant to all of your different audiences. For example, a student’s UndocuAlly training will differ from your administrator training.  

Due to the constant changes in legislation and new information on programs and services regarding undocumented students, the CCC Undocumented Student Advisory Committee suggests that trainings be renewed every two years. It is important to keep an organized and detailed list of professionals who have been trained. When it is time to renew, a friendly reminder should be sent to promote a renewal on their UndocuAlly training. Having a list of UndocuAllies also allows you to have a way to share critical updates depending on changes in federal, state and even local county laws and policies.  Allyship should be constant and action-oriented. Participating in the training is only the beginning of true allyship.

Remember, you do not have to start from scratch when building your UndocuAlly Training. Several colleges are open to sharing their PowerPoint presentations as a promising practice.[1]  In addition, collaboration among different departments is important to be able to host successfully tailored trainings.

We also encourage you to consider promoting the CCC Chancellor’s Office “Supporting Undocumented Student Learning Module” [2]  as a first step before anyone participates in your UndocuAlly Training. The purpose of the 45-minute module is to provide a basic common understanding of undocumented students in our system. The module highlights terminology commonly used when supporting undocumented students, and could serve as an introduction before your audience walks into your training. Having this basic understanding will allow you to focus more time in other areas of the training and less time on basic definitions. In addition, your audience will have heard the terminology at least once, before they walk into your training. Keep in mind this Learning Module is only available for CCC practitioners.

Furthermore, we encourage you to plan for a training with actionable language. What do you want your audience to do upon completing your training? This action item may be targeted to different audiences.

For example:

Action Items:

  • Faculty
    • Include a statement of support in their syllabus and Canvas
  • Administrators 
    • Support with implementation of legislation
    • Provide release time for their staff to attend UndocuAlly trainings
  • Outreach
    • Include UndocuCenter Information in all their presentations
    • Incorporate inclusive language (FAFSA & CA Dream Act) on all presentations and printed materials
  • Admissions                   
    • Clearly establish an AB 540 process for your students, create and
    • Case manage a  separate AB540 list with an undocumented student-only list
  • Classified Staff             
    • Walking students to the UndocuCenter and providing an
    • introduction to UndocuCenter staff.
  • All                                   
    • Visibility – Posting the UndocuCenter logo or butterfly. As possible, the logo or decal given to allies that go through trainings should have their name, title, and possibly picture. Ally should inform their students what the logo represents and encourage others to participate in UndocuAlly trainings.

UndocuAlly training should also have clear objectives you hope to accomplish with your training. Each time you coordinate a training, 3 – 4 clearly defined objectives are recommended.

  1. Offer FLEX credit for faculty completing the training.
  2. Offer hybrid ally trainings that include both in-person and online learning.  

Set realistic goals around UndocuAlly training for your campus, such as, “in the upcoming year, our goal is to train all student services including Outreach, Admission and Financial Aid,” or, “we hope to train 50 practitioners per semester.” Keep in mind goals could look very different from college to college. If you have a full-time UndocuLaison for your campus, this may allow them to focus more time on training.  If you do not have a Liaison, perhaps consulting outside organizations may be a better route for your college. Always remember that the more people you train, the more capacity you add to your Center/Program.