February 2021 Alumni Spotlight
Angelo Cabrera, MPA ’13
MPA graduate Angelo Cabrera (who now works at the Marxe School as a researcher and Community Outreach Specialist) discusses the nonprofit he co-founded, Masa, which serves the undocumented and new immigrant community, and more in this month’s alumni spotlight.
The University of Iberoamericana in Mexico City recently published a book and a released a documentary about your community work in New York City’s recent and undocumented immigrant community. Can you tell us about that?
Prof. Mercedes Ruiz Muñoz was granted a research fellowship to spend six month in New York to document my life story in activism. The books tells my life story from being a homeless accompany undocumented minor to become a community leader in the Mexican community in New York, The book captures nearly 20 years of community work promoting access to higher education among the Mexican and the recent immigrant community with focus on the undocumented community. The book talks about how undocumented immigrant earn their right to have access to high education y how I as a center piece in the movement of passing the New York In-State-Tuition Law to grant the opportunity to undocumented students to be able to attend both CUNY and CUNY and pay as a New York state residents. The book also capture my role as community leader and as student leader to develop various community outreach strategies for CUNY and the Department of Ed to increase the number of attendance among the Mexican community to CUNY and to register more Mexican children to the Early Child Education program and many other collaboration with the Census Department to get every undocumented immigrant to be counted in the census 2010 and some other community outreach strategies for the Mayor Office of Immigrant Affairs. But most important, my role as creating various other educational initiatives to support undocumented students like Masa and The American Dream Charter School.
What have some of your top accomplishments been as Executive Director?
At the time as President of Masa, I decided to shift the focus of Masa to become the first mentoring/after school program in the Mexican community in NYC. I now sit on the board and continue to provide guidance and support to the goals and vision of the organization.
My condition as an undocumented student at Baruch College. After the 9/11 in 2001 many friends at CUNY including at Baruch dropped out of college because CUNY change its policy regarding to undocumented students. Along with other CUNY students we founded Masa as an advocacy students’ club to advocate for the NYS in-state-tuition law. After we finally passed the law, I decided to shift the focus of masa to become the first mentoring/afterschool program in the Mexican community in NYC.
Regarding greater accomplishments, in 2011, Masa’s Mexican mentorship project competed for an international competition, award winner, 26th place out of 57 thousands proposals. Masa was awarded 1.5M Mexican Pesos (approximately $125,000 US dollars.) I received several awards, proclamations and citations for my work at Masa for promoting access to higher education among the undocumented immigrant community.
Many of our students who enrolled in our program when we first started in 2004, are now professional, some of them with double master’s degree.
You worked with Marxe Professor Robert Smith on an amicus brief for the Supreme Court defending the DACA. What was your contribution?
I am a manger of the research project and I was in charge of developing the research tools, evaluating data, doing case management, developing and implementing leadership programs with our partners (NGOs). In regards to the Amicus Brief, we all contributors as researchers, I did interviews four our DACA research, I develop cases, and manage the data gathering.
Can you provide a general summation of the brief?
Basically our research and participation on the amicus brief was how having, lacking, gaining, or losing legal status impacts young people and their families, and the life choices they make due to their legal status. We did general intakes of demographic information for 1,700 individuals and we interview more than 300 and follow more than 150 DACA recipients over a period of 5 years (the research continues).
What was your experience like as a Marxe student? What skills and connections did you pick up have contributed to your career and nonprofit endeavors?
I was very fortunate to use every learning skill to found and manage a nonprofit organization like Masa. For instance, I took courses in fundraising and grant writing to get funding for Masa. I took communication classes to do all of the PR at Mara, Program Evolution to evaluate the programs at Masa, I even took mapping to develop a community outreach for the Census Department to make sure every undocumented immigrant got counted in the census 2020, I received several awards for that.