When Hurricane Maria made landfall on the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017, no one truly knew what the extent of the damage would be.
Puerto Ricans buckled down and prepared for the impending storm, but there was no stopping the category 4 cyclone from wiping out electrical grids, displacing thousands of people, and sadly taking thousands of Puerto Rican lives. Already reeling from the impact of Hurricane Irma just weeks prior, Puerto Rico was in need of help. The Philadelphia Foundation supported the local community’s response by generating more than $68,300 in grants to help victims of these hurricanes, including $13,000 to provide residents with winter coats and shoes.
Late last year, nearly 6,000 people in Pennsylvania were told their legal ability to live in the U.S. through the DACA program would be revoked.
Those with DACA permits expiring in the next 6 months had a narrow window to renew them but applications required a $495 fee. For many, coming up with the money on short notice would be nearly impossible, which is why we took action. Through its partnership with the PA is Ready! coalition, the Philadelphia Foundation launched a fundraising campaign to help Dreamers pay the fees and remain in their communities legally — able to work and attend school.
Known as “Dreamers,” those previously protected by this program were forced to come up with $495 to pay a renewal fee by early October. For many, putting together the money in such a short timeframe would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible.
“My DACA expires in January,” one Dreamer told us upon hearing about the DACA program termination. “I currently don’t have a job since I just gave birth. I had a high-risk pregnancy, and my daughter has Down Syndrome. I need help financially for my renewal.”
For many of these Dreamers, life in Pennsylvania is the only life they know. They’re surrounded by family and friends and are ingrained in their local communities. Not one to sit idly by, the Philadelphia Foundation, in partnership with the PA is Ready! coalition and the Pennsylvania Immigrant and Citizenship Coalition (PICC), took action. We launched a fundraising campaign to cover the $495 fee for Dreamers in Pennsylvania and keep them in their homes.
The effort was a tremendous success. More than 230 donors from 13 counties across Pennsylvania contributed nearly $69,000 to this campaign.
The funds helped residents originally from Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador, and 11 other countries across the globe renew their permits on time, and additional dollars raised were used to support the ongoing work of immigrant-serving organizations through PA is Ready!
“I’ve been in the United States for 15 years,” another Dreamer told us. “I now share custody of my one-year-old daughter who is a U.S. citizen. I am lucky to be eligible to renew my DACA and very thankful to organizations like PICC for helping relieve some of the costs.”
This demonstration of collective activism exemplifies Pennsylvanians’ dedication to the greater good of our state. By pooling together our resources, we’re able to provide ongoing support to immigrants in need.