October 5, 2017
The Voqal Fellowship is a talent and technology accelerator for tomorrow’s social entrepreneurs. It’s searching for change-makers and thought leaders who want to launch their next “big idea” that will increase equity for those who are least well off politically, economically and/or socially. This week we take a final look at the 2017 fellows with a spotlight on Antonio Garcia and the evolution of his project.
Antonio Garcia comes from the intersection of tech and immigrant advocacy. He believes in empowering communities through education and civic engagement. He is the founder of the DACA Network, a professional network for undocumented immigrants. Prior to his work with the DACA Network, he co-founded Latina Girls Code, for which he now serves as the director of curriculum which focuses on bringing STEM education to Latina girls from 7-17 years old.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a government program that protects certain young undocumented individuals from deportation and provides them with work authorization. Despite this change, DACAmented individuals still face many obstacles in terms of finding gainful employment because of cultural and legal reasons.
During his Voqal Fellowship, Garcia used his web development experience to build a centralized professional network to connect DACAmented job seekers to understanding mentors and job providers who are well-equipped to onboard them. However, as is sometimes case with Voqal Fellowship projects, after digging deeper into his project, it evolved.
After receiving a great deal of feedback throughout the course of his fellowship, he decided to split his original idea into two separate projects.
The first is the Entrepreneurship Initiative. It is an accelerator for undocumented immigrants seeking to incorporate into a business. His multi-faceted background allows him to teach undocumented people how to leverage modern and low-overhead tools, such as social media and cloud-based points of sale.
The second is Protection for All. It is a group started by undocumented activists who push for inclusive immigration legislation with a secondary objective of building and activating younger undocumented leaders.