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El Mundo Boston 2018.

CARLOS ROJAS

Director of Special Projects, Youth on Board

Age: 24

Heritage: Colombian

 

Carlos Rojas Álvarez was born in Medellín, Colombia. He is a political strategist, facilitator, project director and fundraiser. In his close to ten years of political and community work, he has used his skills, extensive network and ability to translate vision into action to fundraise over $750,000 for initiatives that protect the promise of public education and defend vulnerable immigrant communities against hate.

 

When his immigration status barred him from enrolling in college after graduating from Boston Latin School, he became the New England representative to the national United We Dream network.  At age 20 he became the Campaign Director for the Student Immigrant Movement, the largest undocumented-led organization in Massachusetts, and a founding member of United We Dream.

 

In these roles, he coordinated a statewide strategy to win in-state tuition and financial aid for undocumented students in Massachusetts and establish a network of undocumented-friendly “DREAM schools.” Today, schools like Emerson College, Harvard, Tufts and Brandeis University enroll and provide financial aid to undocumented students thanks in large part to that work.

 

Carlos was also instrumental in the national effort to enroll all eligible DREAMers into the DACA program and expand DACA protection to parents of U.S. Citizens, like his mother. At Youth on Board, he coordinated grassroots campaigns to overhaul zero-tolerance school discipline laws in Massachusetts and ensure the inclusion of student feedback and opinion in educator evaluations K-12.

 

In 2016, he was the Student Field Director for the Save Our Public Schools ballot initiative campaign to protect funding for public schools. In 2017, he served as the Interim Alliance Director of the Boston Education Justice Alliance (BEJA) - which he helped found while in high school – where he helped to launch a campaign to secure full and equitable funding for public schools in Boston and across the Commonwealth.

 

Today, Carlos is the Director of Special Projects at Youth on Board where he helped to found the ListeningWorks project, a national initiative to strengthen and deepen social movements in the current political climate with transformative healing and community engagement strategies.

 

To him, being Latino means inheriting a history of struggle for justice and equality in the face of imperialism, slavery and genocide. In the future, he hopes to move critical resources in the wealthiest nation in human history to where they are needed the most, and to represent and champion the powerful narratives of the people and communities who gave him life.