Staff member's passion for advocating for undocumented students leads to securing grant

headshot: Adriana Almanza
Adriana Almanza, assistant director for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, also serves as chair of the Michigan Coalition for Undocumented Student Success.
Image Credit: University Communications

Adriana Almanza, assistant director for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, is passionate about advocating for undocumented students and recently helped a coalition receive its first grant to support that work.

Almanza serves as chair of the Michigan Coalition for Undocumented Student Success, which received a $30,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan to help the coalition host training sessions and a summit for K-12 and college educators, assisting them in their work with undocumented and DACA students.

Almanza said the grant will be administered by the Michigan College Access Network, as the coalition is not an established nonprofit. The coalition began meeting nearly three years ago; it includes representation from the University of Michigan's National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good and the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center.

Almanza's passion for assisting DACA and undocumented students began when she worked in the Admissions Office. "I advocated for a website to help undocumented students navigate resources at Grand Valley," she said. 

GVSU is now considered a "friendly university" for undocumented students, a fact Almanza said gives her a lot of gratification.

"It's so great to see the work done on campus to support a student population that's very marginalized," she said.

Almanza also chairs Grand Valley's task force that considers best practices to support the undocumented/DACA student population, and established peer support groups in partnership with the Counseling Center.

She said Michigan is home to about 129,000 undocumented immigrants, including 13,000 DACA-eligible individuals.