The Latin American Youth Center Career Academy (LAYCCA) is on a mission to improve opportunities for youth of the District.
Members of the AU community, including undergraduate students, have stepped up to provide advice, mentoring, and tutoring to LAYCCA students.
The school serves many in immigrant communities, the majority of students coming from Central America. The curriculum prioritizes workforce development through certificates in health and technology.
AU students representing multiple courses give presentations and provide counsel through an ongoing “signature partnership” with LAYCCA, a tuition-free charter school serving students ages from 16-24 in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of DC.
The partnership is a program through the university’s strategic imperative, Working with Washington, and a partnership with the Center for Community Engagement and Service (CCES). The seven-year strategic plan includes developing education-related partnerships with the District.
In alignment with Working with Washington, other partnerships have grown out of the imperative, particularly with Martha’s Table and the Anacostia Museum, both of which are overseen by the Office of Government and Community Relations.
CCES director Marcy Campos said the university chose the LAYCCA because of its combined emphasis on college and career readiness and have worked closely with the academy over the past few months.
Four AU undergraduates led a workshop called “Know Your Rights” for a group of 15 LAYCC students and staff, outlining help them understand their immigration statuses and assess their eligibility for paths to U.S. citizenship.
AU led a workshop called “Know Your Rights” for a group of 15 LAYCC students and staff, outlining help them understand their immigration statuses and assess their eligibility for paths to U.S. citizenship.
Through this partnership, the LAYCCA requested legal assistance, tutors and mentorships, as well as support with financial literacy and technology.
“Having the opportunity to provide information on immigration options for students was a learning experience,” student Alan Martinez said. “The visit gave us the opportunity to expose ourselves to the reality certain populations in the US face, and for us to participate in intimate conversations with students about their unique situations.”
Additionally, students worked on legal intakes on March 22 with nine LAYCCA students to explore legal options and help them understand their immigration statuses and assess their eligibility for paths to U.S. citizenship, said Saba Ahmed, the director of WCL’s Dreamer Initiative who worked closely with the students in the partnership.
“The school is such a good match for these non-traditional students who might not find the right services in a traditional public school,” Campos said.
Providing legal advice is just one of the ways that AU is Working with Washington. Other activities include:
- A group of 10 CAS Leadership and Ethical Development program (LEAD) students led by CAS professor Nabina Liebow work as peer advisors for mentoring and tutoring LAYCCA students.
- SOC professor Laura Hinson’s Community Documentary students are working on two short films about LAYCCA staff including Dr. Jacqueline Fernandez, the principal, and her path to education.
- Students from the Community-Based Research Scholars program and CAS professor Noemi Enchautegui-de-Jesus are involved with facilitating workshops and legal intakes with Ahmed. CBRS students conducted a research study to identify the wishes of LAYCCA students with the goal of informing enrollment, attendance, and retention at the school.
Thanks to a grant from the Eagle Endowment for Public and Community Service, a group of LAYCCA students visited campus in late April and toured alongside students in the LEAD program who’d worked with them as advisors at the academy.
Students from AU and the Latin American Youth Career Center Academy met on campus in April. (Photo by Jeffrey Watts/AU)
“This was the first time some of the LAYCCA students had an opportunity to explore a residential, four-year institution and talk about their experiences,” said Anand Balan, a LEAD student. “They seemed to enjoy their time at AU and were eager to learn.”