On Saturday, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center will be hosting a forum for family issues at San Gabriel High School in Alhambra. Marvin Andrade, the national advocacy organization's director of leadership development, explains why families, why this is not limited to Asian Americans, and why Alhambra.
Among the most inspiring moments of my career in the non-profit sector have been watching youth and parents organize around a common cause: fundraising to bring more books to a school library, packing school board chambers to testify against the closing of community programs, and walking together demanding the construction of new schools.
As high school graduation season approaches, an issue confronting families is students’ access to higher education. In the San Gabriel Valley, severe state budget cuts to education have led local community colleges like East Los Angeles and Pasadena and universities like Cal State Los Angeles and California State University, Northridge to increase tuition fees while at the same time limiting enrollment. As a result, many high school students are falling through the cracks, not able to gain admission to colleges and universities. Students of immigrant families often face additional challenges because of language barriers. The more parents know about the educational system and how to navigate it, the more likely they will be to help their children achieve a college degree.To help empower families, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) launched the San Gabriel Valley Family Forum three years ago. The day-long event brings families together, and provide youth and parents with information on issues such as college readiness, financial aid, and more. This year the forum, which usually draws about 400 community members, will be held at San Gabriel High School on Saturday, May 12 from 8:00am to 3:00pm.As the largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in the United States, APALC has placed special attention to Alhambra over the past decade because of the steady Asian population growth in the city and surrounding communities. According to recent census figures, Asian Americans were the only group that grew in numbers over the past decade in Alhambra, adding about 3,000 new residents and making them 53 percent of the city. At the same time, the community is multiethnic, with more than one third of the population Latino, and one of APALC's goals is inter-ethnic leadership.The city is also becoming home to a more mature population with established families with U.S. citizen children. Serving more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year through direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building, APALC looks to continue building a strong Asian family voice for civil rights and social justice. Ensuring that Alhambra families have access to a quality education after high school is a fundamental factor to achieve that goal.At the Family Forum, parents and youth can expect to have a great time with music, performances, raffles, and food. Various organizations will have information tables for families to learn about programs and services available to them. Several workshops will be offered focusing on themes such as pathways to colleges and universities, establishing careers in math and science fields, building bridges across generations, and ways parent can support children when in college. Students that are part of APALC's Student Leadership Network—a program that trains and supports community-based student leadership organizations at Alhambra, Mark Keppel, and San Gabriel high schools—will debut their service learning projects. The projects address various important issues to them, like dealing with bullying at school, and the effects of budget cuts in their schools. Parents from the Parent Leadership Program—a program geared to create confident parent advocates—will also serve as volunteers helping with logistics, while other will assist in the facilitation of workshops.One particular issue that will be at this year’s forum will be electrical safety. Last year the San Gabriel Valley experienced some of the most potent windstorms in recent memory. Tens of thousands of families were left without power, schools were closed, and neighborhoods had to deal with fallen trees and power lines. Southern California Edison — who is sponsoring the event — will be also providing youth and parents with information on pre and post storm electrical safety, as well as other topics and issues leading to family, neighborhood, and community safety.
The Family Forum will be at San Gabriel High School on Saturday, May 12 from 8:00am to 3:00pm. Alhambra Source is a co-sponsor of the event and will have a booth.