The pandemic and the economic fallout has disproportionately impacted immigrant communities. More likely to be in low-waged and/or “essential” sectors such as food service/production and hospitality and with lack of readily accessible, affordable healthcare, immigrant communities have higher rates of infection and death from COVID and overly bear the economic hardships stemming from the pandemic. Undocumented immigrants are particularly vulnerable having been denied financial assistance from the government because of their status. With limited employment opportunities, many undocumented young people have turned to entrepreneurship as a way to support themselves and their families during the pandemic.

Long time ZFF partner, Immigrants Rising, has been key in supporting undocumented immigrants during the COVID-19 crisis. Founded in 2006, Immigrants Rising centers undocumented young people impacted by unequal access to opportunities, rights and resources and equips them with information and supports to make informed decisions, pursue educational and career goals, and build a brighter future for themselves and their community.  The financial challenges of COVID-19 and the uncertain political climate have led more and more aspiring entrepreneurs to seek entrepreneurship resources and help from Immigrants Rising.

This year, Immigrants Rising reached over 4,200 potential entrepreneurs, students, career counselors, and educators through virtual and in-person presentations on topics such as becoming your own boss and how to start a business. The new #UndocuHustle Learning Hub has reached over 14,000 people — just 4 months after it launched. Scaling up the entrepreneurship work is just one of the many ways Immigrants Rising is responding to the pandemic. They are also launching an array of new virtual offerings including regular wellness gatherings, office hours for students across California, coffee talks with Catalyst partners, crowd-sourced resources for the immigrant community, and much more.

Now, more than ever, immigrant communities need resources and tools to explore opportunities for income generation. In this tumultuous moment, Immigrants Rising is providing essential support to undocumented young people who are working to create positive social change. Immigrant business owners and entrepreneurs show again and again that they are able to stand against barriers, find new ways to thrive, and build new paths and opportunities for themselves and others. Their contributions are needed and will be vital to the recovery and rebuilding of the country.