The California Dream Network is a statewide network of existing and emerging college campus organizations who actively address undocumented student issues and who work to create broader social change around immigration reform and access to higher education. The CA Dream Network’s work is carried out through:
- College campus organizing
- Youth Empowerment Trainings
- College Presentations
- High School Presentations
- Community Outreach
- Statewide conference calls
- Regional conference calls
- Regional Dream Network meetings
- Regional summits
- Bi-annual statewide conferences
In 2001, CHIRLA created Wise Up!, an organization for high school students, to address the problems facing undocumented students in Los Angeles. This youth leadership project grew from immigrant youth’s absence from the conversation about immigration reform and immigrant rights. Wise Up! was born when immigrant students began mobilizing to support the passage of AB540. After months of dedicated activism, Wise Up! witnessed history being made when then-Governor Gray Davis signed the bill into law on October 12, 2001.
CHIRLA’s Wise Up! Founders graduated High School, many with honors, and were some of the first undocumented students to benefit from the passage of AB540, which went into effect in January 2002. Accepted into four year universities and colleges, they continued their fight for justice by founding some of the original campuses chapters in what is now called the California DREAM Network (CDN), active in 38 colleges and universities across the state. Wise Up! also led the way in other ways by building coalitions and networks such as the Los Angeles DREAM Team in 2003 and Orange County DREAM Team in 2004.
Eight years later, the CA Dream Network has expanded to over 38 college and university campuses in the state of California. The California Dream Network has trained over 2,000 student leaders in the last eight years, and these have gone on to organize and train countless
The network seeks to serve as a primary source for innovating ideas and action to ameliorate the plight of undocumented students. It seeks to serve as the central meeting ground for existing and emerging groups who actively address undocumented student issues and who work to create broader social change around immigration reform and access to higher education.
The California Dream Network is divided into four regions: Northern, Central, Southern, and the LA Metro Region. Each region is comprised of a specific number of local Dream Networks. Each Dream Network is lead by one or two steering members and may comprise 1 to 3 campus-based or non-campus-based AB 540 student support groups.
- Northern Region (is composed of 4 local Dream Networks)
- Central Region (is composed of 2 local Dream Networks)
- LA Metro Region (is composed of 4 local Dream Networks)
- Southern Region (is composed of 5 local Dream Networks)
The Steering Committee is composed of 17 student activists who are elected at every statewide retreat, serve until the next statewide retreat and help guide the network in a statewide campaign to mobilize and garner political support for the passage of the CA Dream Act and the federal DREAM Act, put an end to budget cuts on education, and advocate for the passage of comprehensive and just immigration policies. The total number of steering members fluctuate every term usually do to new undocumented student groups joining the network. Steering members represent the four different regions as follows:
- Northern Region ( 4 Steering Members )
- Central Region ( 3 Steering Members )
- LA Metro Region ( 5 Steering Members )
- Southern Region ( 5 Steering Members )
Each AB 540 student support group selects one or two students from its members to serve as its official representative(s). These students are known as Organization/Campus Representative and participate in monthly statewide conference calls and report back to their campuses on the content of the calls; help organize and mobilize for statewide and local actions; and most importantly serve as role models to immigrant students in their communities.
Special committees are also created to empower and encourage members to assume leadership roles such as in the Direct Action and Fundraising Committees.